The worst Indian war at this time was with the Sioux in the Black Hills in Dakota. Gold having been found there, miners invaded the Indians’ reservation. As the miners and Indians both drank, quarrels and fights soon arose, and, hoping to save bloodshed, the government tried to make a treaty with the Sioux to sell their land and go elsewhere.
The principal chiefs were Sitting Bull and Rain–in–the–Face, who refused to stir. They were then told that they must obey or the troops would force them to do so. But the Indians retreated into the Big Horn valley, where they got ready to fight.
General George A. Custer, who had fought bravely all through the Civil War, set out in June, 1876, to attack them. But he divided his force, so as to strike them from two sides at once, and when he and his two hundred and sixty–two men came suddenly upon the Indians’ camp he found that the Sioux had been joined by many others of their tribe, and now, instead of a few hundred, were five thousand strong!
In a moment Custer’s cavalrymen saw they could not escape. Nevertheless, they dismounted calmly, resolved to die bravely at their post. The Indians came on, twenty to one, and stampeded the cavalry horses by fiendish yells and wildly waving blankets. Left thus, with nothing but the ammunition in their cartridge belts, Custer and his brave troopers fought until their last shots had been fired, and when the battle was over, every one of them lay there dead, but surrounded by many slain Indians.