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Custer's Crow Scouts

By Elmo Scott Watson as Part of His "Stories of Great Scouts" Series
(c) Western Newspaper Union

Published in the Morgan City Review
Morgan City, Louisiana
Octtober 25, 1922, Page 2

There were six of them, these warriors of the Crow or Absaroke nation, who rode with Custer on his last march down the Little Big Horn river in Montana that day in June, 1876. When the leader of the Seventh cavalry asked General Terry for his best Crow scouts in the camp on the Little Rosebud creek, Terry told him he could have Curley, "White Man Runs Him," Hairy Moccasin, "Goes Ahead," Yellow Face and White Swan. The Crows were glad to serve with the famous Indian fighter and they guided him until they located the hostile camp on the Little Big Horn.

When Custer divided his command to attack the village, Yellow Face and White Swan were sent with Major Reno and Custer kept "White Man Runs Him," Curly, "Goes Ahead" and Hairy Moccasin with him. Yellow Face was killed while fighting with Reno, and White Swan was badly wounded, but finally recovered and lived until 1905.

Today Curley is the only surviver of the Custer Crow scouts and, according to his story, he is the last man who saw his commander alive.

After crossing the ridge, Custer turned to "White Man Runs Him," Hairy Moccasin and "Goes Ahead," and said to them: "You have done your duty. You have led me to the enemy. My soldiers will do the fighting. You are to go now and save your lives." The scouts left him and made their way to the pack train under Capt. Tom McDougall.

When Curley returned from Reno's position, he was given the same order. He started and soon found himself in the midst of a hot fight. Finding a dead Sioux warrior, he took his horse, gun and blanket. Wrapping the blanket about his head to conceal his Crow scalplock from the Sioux, Curley suceeded [sic] in reaching a high butte. Looking back he saw that Custer had charged down upon the Indians and was surrounded. Curley says that he watched the battle until he saw Custer, who was the last man standing, fall and then he rode away.

The next morning the Crow scout appeared in General Terry's camp. He could not speak English and there was no interpreter. Curley took blades of grass, piled them all in a heap, and then, exclaiming "Pouf! Pouf!" in imitation of the sound of a gun, scattered them wide apart. By means of this he made the officer understand that Custer and all of his men had been killed. Like the famous Greek, Curley the Crow was a messenger of disaster and he brought the first news of this Thermopylae of America – Custer's last fight.



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