Motorhead Quote

"The battlefields are silent now. The graves all look the same." -- Motorhead,Voices from the War

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Mollar and Mount Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood

When most people think of Deadwood, South Dakota, they conjure up thoughts of the old west, gold prospectors, outlaws, and gunfights. It's known as being the place where Wild Bill met his ultimate fate, holding the Deadman's Hand of aces and eights. History is all over the streets and surrounding hillsides. Mount Moriah Cemetery sits on one of these hills above the city.

Mount Moriah is both a cemetery and a history lesson. Deadwood's "Big Four" are all buried here: Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, Preacher Smith, and Potato Creek Johnny. If you spend any time in Deadwood you will run across references to these four famous Mount Moriah residents. 

But there's another resident of Mount Moriah who has close ties with history. Jan Mollar enlisted in the 7th U.S. Cavalry on January 15, 1872, in Chicago, Illinois. He listed his previous occupation as laborer. He was discharged on January 15, 1877, upon expiration of service, as a corporal of excellent character. On pension records he is listed as Jan Moller and elsewhere as John Muller, James Muller, or James Mullen. His gravestone at Mount Moriah lists his name as Jan Mollar. 

While living in Deadwood in 1927, he resided at 63 Stewart Street (People live there today so if you visit, please respect their privacy).  He was wounded in the right thigh during the siege on the hilltop on June 25, 1876. He was later transported to Fort Abraham Lincoln on the steamer Far West. He died on February 23, 1928, and was buried at Mount Moriah in Deadwood, South Dakota.

When you walk through the front gate at Mount Moriah, look up to your right and you will see Mollar's grave. Most visitors, and indeed even the Mount Moriah employees, know nothing of Jan Mollar and his link to one of the most famous battles in American history.

Front gates at Mount Moriah. Mollar's grave is up on right.

Mollar grave.

Mollar grave.

Former Mollar residence at 63 Stewart Street, Deadwood, SD.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Weihe/White Testimonial

Henry Charles Weihe, aka Charles White, was a sergeant serving in Company M, 7th U.S. Cavalry, under Captain Thomas French. He was born in September 1847 in Germany.  

During the Battle of the Little Bighorn, he was wounded in the right arm. His horse was killed when the retreat from the valley fight began. He was part of a small group of troopers who were left in the timber after the valley fight who had hooked up with civilian scout George Herendeen. They all later rejoined Reno and the rest of the troops on the hilltop. 

Interview with George Herendeen – "Once in a while, while in the timber, I would go to the edge and look, and finally seeing only a few Indians, I told the men we would go out and that we must walk and not run and go across the open flat. There was a wounded corporal or sergeant.  On the way out of the timber only one shot was exchanged with these Indians. I told the men not to shoot unless necessary, that I did not want to stir up a general engagement with them – not to run but to go in skirmish order. Take it cool and we would get out.  I told them that I had been in such scrapes before and know we could get out if we kept our cool. I told them that I could get out alone and if they would do what I told them, I could get them out also. The wounded sergeant then spoke up and said: “They will do what you want for I will compel them to obey. I will shoot the first man who starts to run or to disobey orders.” This wounded sergeant helped me out in good shape. We got to the river. The water was rather deep where we forded.  The sergeant and I remained on the west bank while the balance forded. We told them that when they got over to protect us while we forded, and they did so."

Sergeant White was transported to Fort Lincoln aboard the steamer Far West. 

Daniel Newell stated, “Sergeant White, though badly wounded in the elbow, stayed on his feet and did everything he could to relieve the sufferers. He had a glassful of jelly in his bags and each wounded man got a small spoonful of that.”

The following was published in the Lead Daily Call newspaper on May 29, 1904:

Here's an ad from the same issue for the Quaker Doctors Weihe is referring to:

Henry Charles Weihe died on October 29, 1906. He is buried at the Fort Meade Post Cemetery outside Sturgis, South Dakota.

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Farewell Fred

I lost a close friend over Thanksgiving weekend. Frederic C. Wagner III passed away on Sunday, November 27, 2022, at 10:19pm EST. 

Of course his friends never called him Frederic. He was just plain old Fred. He was one of the smartest guys I ever met. He had an uncanny ability to uncover, catalog, and interpret vast amounts of data, He was also one of the kindest and open people I have ever had the pleasure of calling friend.

Fred, Garryowen, MT - 2013

I have also never met anyone as passionate about the Battle of the Little Big Horn as Fred. He wanted to know every small detail about the battle and its participants. And somehow he could remember all that information and be able to recall it. He had collected massive amounts of computer data on everything from vegetation on the battlefield to the walking speed of horses.

When I first met him (Summer 2007), he was lugging around these large three-ring binders and topographic maps. He was working on a timeline for the battle. He had painstakingly entered bits of information into a large spreadsheet and was able to put everything into context and show when certain events happened during the battle. He was always refining those timelines and was eventually able to share them in a book, STRATEGY OF DEFEAT AT THE LITTLE BIG HORN: A MILITARY AND TIMING ANALYSIS OF THE BATTLE. This book shook things up in the study of the battle and has become a time tested standard. Fred also helped write the screenplay for a movie (Strategy of Defeat:The Movie) that was based on the book.

Fred's Books (descriptions from Amazon):

Participants in the Battle of the Little Big Horn: A Biographical Dictionary of Sioux, Cheyenne and United States Military Personnel: The Battle of the Little Big Horn was the decisive engagement of the Great Sioux War of 1876-1877. In its second edition this biographical dictionary of all known participants--the 7th Cavalry, civilians and Indians--provides a brief description of the battle, as well as information on the various tribes, their customs and methods of fighting. Seven appendices cover the units soldiers were assigned to, uniforms and equipment of the cavalry, controversial listings of scouts and the number of Indians in the encampments, the location of camps on the way to the Big Horn and more. Updated biographies are provided for many European soldiers, along with an additional 5,060 names of Indians who were or could have been in the battle.

The Strategy of Defeat at the Little Big Horn: A Military and Timing Analysis of the Battle: The battle that unfolded at the Little Big Horn River on June 25, 1876, marked a watershed in the history of the Plains Indians. While a stunning victory for the Sioux and Cheyenne peoples, it initiated a new and vigorous effort by the U.S. government to rid the west of marauding tribes and to realize the ideal of "Manifest Destiny." While thousands of books and articles have covered different aspects of the battle, few if any have analyzed the tactics and chronology to arrive at a satisfactory explanation of what befell George Armstrong Custer and the 209 men who died alongside him. This volume seeks to explain the circumstances culminating in the near-destruction of the 7th Cavalry Regiment by a close examination of timing, setting every event to a specific moment based on accounts of the battle's participants.

Marcus Reno in the Valley of the Little Big Horn: Limited Means, Excessive Aims: Major Marcus Reno's actions at the Battle of Little Big Horn have been both criticized and lauded, often without in-depth analysis. This book takes a fresh look the battle and events leading up to it, offering answers to unanswered questions. The author examines the meanings of "orders" given in Custer's command and how they were treated, the tactics and fighting in the valley, Reno's alcoholism, and his last stand on the hilltop named for him.

The Great Sioux Campaign of 1876, Day-by-Day: Drawing on more than 22 years' research, this book presents an exhaustive chronology of the Great Sioux Campaign in three parts: the U.S. Seventh Cavalry's communications, decisions and movements October 15, 1875-June 21, 1876, are traced day-by-day; the three-day prelude to the Battle of Little Bighorn hour-by-hour; and the battle itself minute-by-minute. The separate actions of the several military commands and the Indians involved are narrated in coherent sequence. Archival intelligence summaries offer the reader fresh perspective on the events leading to the decisive Indian victory known as Custer's Last Stand.

Back in April 2021 Fred did a presentation for his "valley book" that was uploaded to YouTube. Here is a link to that presentation...

We call our little group of friends Montana Mayhem and you can check out our trip diaries and photo albums by clicking the link below...

Farewell Fred. Garryowen my friend.

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Little Bighorn History Alliance

 I recently noticed that I have made a H-U-G-E oversight on this website. On the right-hand side of this site are links under the header, RECOMMENDED LINKS. I have inadvertently left off one of the premier "Custer websites" - the Little Bighorn History Alliance. 

It's weird that I have left it off for so long as it is a site I visit regularly and often. The site is run by Diane Merkel and she does a hell of a job. Be sure to check out THIS WEEK IN LITTLE BIGHORN HISTORY blog.

Well it gets rectified now.

Little Bighorn History Alliance

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Obituary Added for Mary Burri

Elizabeth Custer included the following in her wonderful book, Boots and Saddles:

"There was a Swiss soldier in our regiment who had contrived to bring his zither with him. My husband would lie on the bearskin rug in front of the fire and listen with delight as long as he ventured to tax the man. He played the native Tyrolese airs, which seemed to have caught in them the sound of the Alpine horn, the melody of the cascade, and the echo of the mountain passes. The general often regretted that he had not had the opportunity to learn music. It seemed to me that it was a great solace and diversion to officers if they knew some musical instrument well enough to enjoy practice. They certainly gave great pleasure to those around them."

Libbie was referring to 7th Cavalry musician John Burri, who enlisted in the 7th Cavalry on March 13, 1871, in St. Louis, Missouri. 

Burri married Mary Haack, widow of fellow 7th Cavalryman Henry Haack, on December 8, 1881, at Fort Totten. After retirement from the Army at Fort Meade in 1885, Burri moved to a ranch west of Bear Butte where he resided until he moved to Whitewood in 1899, where he made his home until his death.

John S. McClintock, an early day Deadwood/Black Hills Pioneer, wrote the following in his highly recommended book, Pioneer Days in the Black Hills:

"John Burri came to the Black Hills in August, 1874. He was for many years a member of General Custer's Seventh Cavalry, part of which was annihilated in the battle with Indians on Little Big Horn, Montana, in June, 1876. Mr. Burri was not in that engagement. He resided for many years in Whitewood, near Deadwood. He died on December 1, 1927."

Mary Burri had been married twice before. First to Elisha Stuart and then to Henry Haack. She had at least one child, Catherine Stuart, who married a 7th Cavalryman herself, Jacob Horner. 

Mary Burri grave at Saint Mary's Cemetery in Bismarck, ND

Mary Burri died on December 27, 1929, in Bismarck. Her daughter Catherine and Jacob Horner, are buried next to Mary at Saint Mary's Cemetery in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Mary's obituary appeared in the December 27, 1929 issue of the Bismarck Tribune. Her funeral announcement was printed the following day.

Read Mary Burri's obituary and funeral announcement from the Bismarck Tribune.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

New Obituary Added for Daniel Newell

Daniel Newell is one of the more well known troopers in the story of the Little Big Horn. He was often quoted on the action during the valley fight and later the siege on the bluffs.

Daniel Newell was a private in the 7th U.S. Cavalry and was a member of Company M. He was born in Ireland on March 17, 1847, St. Patrick's Day (how's that for an Irishman?). 

"The Story of the Big Horn Campaign of 1876" as told by Private Daniel Newell appeared in Sunshine Magazine. Some of the essays dealing with the campaign were later reprinted in a small, privately printed publication, THE SUNSHINE MAGAZINE ARTICLES, edited by John M. Carroll.

One of his obituaries, this one from the Sturgis Weekly Record of September 28, 1933, said the following about Trooper Newell:

"Mr. Newell was a member of the A. O. U. W. lodge and served on the city council and the school board here for two terms.  During his many years of residence in Sturgis, Mr. Newell became universally liked and respected, counting his friends by his acquaintances.  He possessed a kindly, genial nature and high principles, and his passing will be deeply regretted."

Daniel Newell died on September 23, 1933, in Hot Springs, South Dakota. He was buried next to his wife, Mary, in Bear Butte Cemetery in Sturgis, SD.

This "new" obituary is from the Rapid City Journal of September 27, 1933. See it here.

Newell grave at Bear Butte Cemetery, Sturgis, SD

Saturday, August 6, 2022

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Remember back in school and everyone would come back after the long summer break? Some classmates you hung out with and others you didn't see at all. The teacher would go around the room and ask everyone for a brief update on what you did over the summer break. Well, this is what I did.

Day 1: Mackenzie River Pizza. L to R: Max Reeve, Michael Olson, Frank Bodden, Scott Nelson.

I have a close group of buddies and we go hunting around battlefields, forts, and other historic sites. We also look for decent food and beer along the way. We typically try to go every other year but Covid-19 threw a monkey wrench into those plans. Our last trip was back in 2018. 2020 was to be our next but we all know what happened. 2021 wasn't any better so that was also scrapped. When 2022 rolled around we were determined to make a go of it. Unfortunately, one of us couldn't make it. That changed the whole dynamic and feel of the trip so we are setting our sights on 2023 to have all of us together and try and get things back to some form of normal.

We call our trips and group "Montana Mayhem." We all met on the internet and since our first trip we have been going strong. When we are not traveling together we keep in contact by phone calls, email, text messages, and our own private Facebook group. We're not always discussing Custer, the Little Big Horn battle, the Plains Indian wars, etc. There is lots of talk about football, beer, movies, etc. Just normal everyday stuff.

Our 2022 trip was a wide ranging trip. We all met up in Billings on June 14. From there we branched out and hit Hardin, Sheridan, Cody, Bozeman, and eventually back to Billings. We hit the Little Big Horn Battlefield, Fort Phil Kearny, the Buffalo Bill Museum of the West, the Museum of the Rockies, Big Hole Battlefield, and other points in-between. There are many small, but extremely interesting and valuable, museums and historical sites spread throughout the area. We try to visit as many as we can. And don't forget about the food and beer aspects either. Looking for the ever elusive and excellently prepared bison steak.

We are already throwing around ideas for our 2023 trip. After all, half the fun is in the planning.

Montana Mayhem 2022 Photo Album

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