Custer Lives!

Benkelman, Nebraska


On July 6, 2009 I visited the site where Pawnee Killer led a June 24, 1867 dawn attack on the US 7th Cavalry commanded by General George Armstrong Custer. The Nebraska Historical Marker is about two miles outside of Benkleman. The marker is reached by diverting onto a paved access road that runs parallel to the main road. There's nothing else here but the marker which didn't faze me at all. I wanted to visit the spot and soak up the history. I didn't venture onto the surrounding private property where I'm sure some of the fighting took place.

General Custer and the 7th Cavalry camped here from June 22 to June 30, 1867 after marching from Fort McPherson in Nebraska. Pawnee Killer's June 24 attack only resulted in a wounded sentry. A truce was called and General Custer parleyed with Pawnee Killer, Pole Cat, Fire Lightning, and Walks Underground. Both sides had planned to use the meeting to gather information about the other's plans. The Indians had also hatched a plan to separate the Officers from the rest of the 7th Cavalry but were thwarted.

The fighting later continued when forty Troopers led by Captain Hamilton were lured into an Indian decoy trap (didn't the Troopers ever learn not to fall for that ruse?) about seven miles from camp. The Troopers fought their way out with two Indians being killed. General Custer's supply train was attacked, while returning from Fort Wallace, and several Indians were killed again. Lt. Lyman Kidder and his command weren't quite so lucky when they were attacked. Lt. Kidder, ten Troopers, and Indian Scout Red Bead were all killed near Beaver Creek, Kansas after missing General Custer's campsite. The Kidder command was discovered, horribly mutilated, by General Custer on July 12.

 The Nebraska Historical Society Marker.

The marker from the edge of the main road.

The area behind the marker is private property.

Looking away from the marker, toward the main road.

Looking away from Benkelman. That's the marker access road in the foreground.

Looking toward Benkelman. The town watertower is barely visible in the center of the photo.


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