Motorhead Quote

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

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Obituary Added for Trooper Krusee

Last time I added a page for Henry "Harry" Krusee, a 7th trooper who was on detached service at the time of the Little Big Horn battle. Krusee died in Hot Springs, South Dakota in 1925 and is buried in the National Cemetery there. In this update I am adding an obituary for him from the June 11, 1925 issue of the Hot Springs Star.

Henry Krusee Obituary - Hot Springs Star - June 11, 1925


Saturday, September 26, 2020

New 7th Cavalry Trooper Added

I'm excited for this update. I have a new 7th Cavalry trooper to add to the website. I don't know why it's taken so long and I'm not going to make any excuses. So, finally, Henry "Harry" Krusee is a part of this website.

I will be adding more information (photos, articles, obituaries, etc.) to Krusee's page as we move along. Here are a few "get to know him" details...

He was born in New York on October 5, 1840. He was on detached service at the time of the Little Big Horn battle so did not participate in that action.

He was discharged 30 November 1885 at Fort Meade by expiration of service as a private of excellent character. He died on June 3, 1925, at Hot Springs, South Dakota, and is buried in the National Cemetery in Hot Springs.


Saturday, August 15, 2020

Good Day Sunshine

I've been interested in Custer, the Battle of the Little Big Horn, and Plains history for quite some time. In 2007, I started collecting information on the troopers who are buried in my home state of South Dakota. There are actually quite a few, including a couple of the more "big names" among enlisted men - Peter Thompson and Charles Windolph. But as I started to pickup tidbits on these guys I realized they all had an interesting story, regardless of their so-called fame.

Every time I read a book I keep a small notepad close by to jot down any notes pertaining to the 7th Cavalry troopers buried in South Dakota. I keep individual files on each trooper and all the information I find goes into these files. I live in Pierre, the state capital of South Dakota, and home to the SD State Archives. I scratch through the old newspapers on microfilm and their other files looking for mentions of these men. I have collected photos, obituaries, news stories, etc. I'm always on the prowl for new information.

Early on in my research I heard about a magazine that contained articles in which I knew I would be interested - Sunshine Magazine, published in Sioux Falls, Issues of this magazine from back in the 1930's contained articles about Daniel Newell, Charles Windolph, and others. I had to find these magazines. I searched flea markets, Ebay, and other websites, trying to find this elusive treasure. No luck. No one I talked to had even heard of it. I was about to give up.

Then I found something. I saw mention that Custer historian John M. Carroll had collected these articles and published them in pamphlet form. They were published under the title, THE SUNSHINE MAGAZINE ARTICLES, in 1979. OK, now I was more optimistic about my chances of finding these articles.

In 2009, my buddies and I (we call ourselves MONTANA MAYHEM), were in Billings, MT, for the conference of the Little Big Horn Associates. One of the highlights of these conferences in a book room. If you're a history nut, you'll be in heaven hunting through all the books available. While there one of my buddies, Michael Olson, said, "Hey Scott, aren't you looking for this?" I looked over and he was holding a copy of THE SUNSHINE MAGAZINE ARTICLES pamphlet. I rushed over and bought it immediately. The search was over!

It wasn't anything special as far as production value went. It certainly wasn't much to look at. It looked simply like a mimeographed booklet. It was however, signed and numbered (#22 of 100) by Mr. Carroll. I was thrilled. Twenty-nine pages including the introduction and signature pages.

The articles that are of interest to me are under the main title, BULLETS, BOOTS, AND SADDLES. John P. Everett, of Sturgis, South Dakota, personally interviewed some of the participants of the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Two of the included articles were the reason I searched so long for this publication.

After the introduction, there is THE STORY OF THE BIG HORN CAMPAIGN OF 1876 by Private Daniel Newell. Newell is one of the troopers who is included on this website and he gives a great account. His narrative includes mentions of the 1874 Black Hills Expedition, the trip from Fort Lincoln to the Little Big Horn, the death of his "bunkie," and the battle's aftermath. He is buried in Bear Butte Cemetery at Sturgis, SD.

Newell's grave at Bear Butte Cemetery, Sturgis, SD

The next article I was interested in was THE BATTLE OF THE BIG HORN by Charles Windolph. Windolph is one of the more well-known of the enlisted men. He won a Medal of Honor for his actions as a sharpshooter protecting the water parties on their trips to the river during the battle. His book, I FOUGHT WITH CUSTER, was published in 1947. The version of events contained in this interview predates the publication of his book. Windolph was the last white survivor of the Battle of the Little Big Horn, living until March of 1950.

Windolph's grave at Black Hills National Cemetery, Sturgis, SD

I try and collect every reference I can find to these troopers who are buried in South Dakota. I had been searching for THE SUNSHINE MAGAZINE ARTICLES for quite some time and they did not disappoint. Any opportunity you have to obtain primary source material, jump at the chance. Reading these soldier's experiences in their own words is priceless.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument Videos

 I usually update this website/blog on the third Saturday of every month. I have a Google calendar notification setup to remind me. Yeah...I'm THAT nerdy guy.

I'm doing a "special" update in this case. The Little Bighorn National Monument has been posting videos for a few months now and they are great. The battlefield is technically open but as of right now the visitor center and museum are closed. The rangers are on Facebook Live and the videos are archived on their Facebook page. Fun stuff to watch as well as being interesting and educational. Video length is usually 7-10 minutes so they don't take a big chuck out of your day. But you may find yourself watching several like I do and then time sneaks away from you.

Enjoy and let me know what you think.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

George Weaver...Show Yourself

Photos of the enlisted men that served with the 7th U.S. Cavalry are rare. With a few exceptions, there are several of the officers from the unit, but the enlisted men are another story. People weren't carrying around phones with 12 megapixel cameras on them like today. If you were a member of the working class back in the 19th century, getting your photo taken was a big deal.

That's why when one shows up, especially if they are on the list of those buried in South Dakota and therefore a focus of this website, I get excited. I was indeed excited when I happened to run across a photo of Trooper George Weaver. 

George Weaver was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, around 1843. He was a member of Company M, 7th U.S. Cavalry. He had blue eyes, brown hair, a florid complexion, and stood 5 feet 7 inches tall. He was discharged on March 14, 1881, at Fort Meade, upon expiration of service, as a farrier of excellent character.

The wonderful book, Custer and Company: Walter Camp's Notes on the Custer Fight (University of Nebraska Press, Bison Books, 1998; edited by Bruce Liddic and Paul Harbaugh) states "George W. Weaver of Company M was called 'Cully' for a nickname.  The nickname of Cully was verified by Ferdinand Widmayer in Camp’s interview of Oct. 7, 1910.  Widmayer went on to say that he was called Cully Weaver to distinguish him from Trumpeter Henry C. Weaver of the same company."

The Sturgis Weekly Record (Sturgis, Dakota Territory) had the following in its January 1, 1887 edition: 

Four deaths occurred during this past year at the post.  They were: Sergeant Johnson, D Company, in September; Farrier Weaver, M Troop, in October; and also Trumpeter Johnson of G Troop, in the same month.  Blacksmith Tessman of K Troop, died in November.

George Weaver died on October 14, 1866, and is buried in the Post Cemetery at Fort Meade, outside Sturgis, South Dakota.

George Weaver grave, Post Cemetery, Fort Meade, South Dakota

I wish to thank Pamela Garvin Schneider for the following photo of George Weaver. Pamela's Great-Grandmother was George Weaver's sister. Pamela received the photo, along with other family documents, from relatives. She has worked hard on the Weaver family heritage and I appreciate her sharing her photo of George with me. I also wish to thank her for granting me permission to post it here on my website.

George Weaver, 7th U.S. Cavalry
(courtesy of Pamela Garvin Schneider)

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Something Smells Fishy

A while back I posted something on the Little Big Horn Associates Facebook group and it got me thinking that maybe I should relay it here as well.

First, a little background information...

James Rooney was born in New York City in 1848. He died half a continent away on August 5, 1918, in Yankton, South Dakota, at the State Hospital. During his stint in the 7th U.S. Cavalry, he was a member of Company F, under Captain George Yates. Luckily, for Rooney, he was detailed to help with the pack train on June 25, 1876. Most of his company followed Custer into the fight and were wiped out.

James Rooney

He was promoted to sergeant on November 10, 1876 and was discharged on December 3 of the following year at Fort Buford, Dakota Territory, upon expiration of service.

He was admitted to the Yankton State Hospital in July 1911.  He died at age 74 (which is at odds with his supposed date of birth) at 3:45pm on August 5, 1918, at Yankton State Hospital.  Cause of death was carcinoma of the lip.  Buried in Grave 593, Yankton State Hospital Cemetery (now South Dakota Human Services Center).

Rooney's grave at Yankton, South Dakota

During the 7th Cavalry's march to the Little Big Horn, they lost a pack from one of the mules. A few soldiers went back to retrieve it and found Indians trying to break the pack open. Shots were fired and the Indians left the scene. The troopers reported the incident and this was a factor that convinced Custer his column had been discovered and the village was about to be warned. Since the army was worried the Indians would scatter, Custer decided to attack. I mention this because according to the book, Camp, Custer, and the Little Bighorn by Richard G. Hardorff -- "The men who went back to check on the pack that was lost were Sgt. William A. Curtiss and Privates James M. Rooney, William Brown, Patrick Bruce, and Sebastian Omling, all of F Company."

As I mentioned above Rooney was a private in F Company assigned to the pack train. He took part in the hilltop fight portion of the Little Big Horn battle.

Now we finally get to the point of my post to the LBHA Facebook group and this blog entry.

Walter Mason Camp was a renowned Little Big Horn researcher and his notes are priceless to the modern day student of the battle. As Rooney had participated in the hilltop portion of the Little Big Horn battle, Camp would definitely have been interested in getting any insight Rooney would have been able to provide. In a January 16, 1909 letter to Camp, Rooney made the weird comment that when Captain Benteen arrived on Reno Hill, he was wearing a big straw hat and carrying a fishing pole!

As odd and far-fetched as that seems, it can possibly be explained. The letter between Camp and Rooney was 33 years after the battle. I don't know about you but my memory may be a bit lacking when it comes to details from 30+ years ago. This is one of the issues with getting participant testimony so long after the events transpired.

I believe that in the years following the battle, Rooney had read up on the campaign in which he was a participant. It is a well-known fact that after the Battle of the Rosebud, Crook retreated to Goose Creek, near present-day Sheridan, WY, and spent a lot of the time fishing. I'm thinking maybe Rooney congealed what he remembered from that stressful day during the battle with what he read over the years and simply mixed Benteen up with Crook. Also, since Rooney was with the pack train, he would have arrived on Reno Hill AFTER Benteen had already gotten there.

My Facebook post garnered some interesting discussion. A couple of group member comments that struck me as particularly interesting (I've left off the poster information):

"The story I’ve read about the fishing pole was that it occurred one year later when Benteen and the 7th Cavalry were deployed in the Nez Perce campaign against Chief Joseph."

OK, this I would find more believable if it wasn't for one thing...I can't find any documentation to support the claim that Rooney was part of the campaign against the Nez Perce. I checked the three "roster" reference books I have and none have a mention of Rooney participating in the Nez Perce campaign. Of course that doesn't mean that he didn't.

"A number of the 7th's officers, including Benteen & Godfrey, were ardent fly fishermen & went fishing whenever the opportunity presented itself while on route up the Rosebud. By the mid-19th century most fishermen were using split-cane bamboo rods, which were very fragile, broke easily & couldn't be stowed safely with the packs. To prevent their breakage, the officers generally kept their poles close to hand."

This is another post that makes some sense to me. But fragile or not, I really can't see Benteen walking around during an Indian battle with a fishing pole over his shoulder.

Whatever the reason, it's certainly an interesting remark and makes one think. Did Rooney confuse things or was Benteen an even cooler cucumber than he's been portrayed? Something to ponder...

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Website Translation Now Available

If you hang out on any of the message boards or Facebook groups dedicated to the study of Custer, the Little Big Horn, the Indian Wars, or the general history of the western frontier, you will quickly realize that this is an obsession that knows no boundaries. People from all over the world (and maybe even out of this world for all we know) read, study, and are generally interested in this fascinating period in history.

With that in mind I'm happy to announce that this website now has automatic translation capability. On the right side of the page scroll down to the Translate box. From the drop-down menu you can select the language of your choice. This will automatically translate the website into the chosen language. Maybe it's just me but I think that is pretty damn cool! Thank you Google!

If you use the translate feature, I would love to hear how it works for you. You can leave a comment on this post or email me directly at scott.nelson[at] Just replace the [at] with @.