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Images of George Armstrong Custer and His Final Fight Became Iconic

Custer and Troopers of the 7th Cavalry Were Wiped Out at the Little Bighorn


By the standards of 19th century warfare, the engagement between George Armstrong Custer's 7th Cavalry and Sioux warriors on a remote hillside near the Little Bighorn River was little more than a skirmish. But the battle on June 25, 1876 cost the lives of Custer and more than 200 men of the 7th Cavalry, and Americans were stunned when the news from the Dakota Territory reached the east coast.

Shocking reports about Custer's demise first appeared in the New York Times on July 6, 1876, two days after the nation's centennial celebration, under the headline, "Massacre of Our Troops."

The idea that a unit of the US Army could be wiped out by Indians was unthinkable, and Custer's final battle was elevated to a national symbol. These images related to the Battle of the Little Bighorn give an indication of how the defeat of the 7th Cavalry was portrayed.

Gratitude is extended to the New York Public Library Digital Collections for permission to use images in this gallery.

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Custer with Kidder's BodyA Massacre in 1867 Introduces Custer to the Brutality of Warfare on the PlainsCuster On a Hunting PartyCuster, Officers, and Family Members Pose on the Great PlainsCuster's Last FightCuster's Last Fight, a Typical DepictionHeroic Death of CusterPortrayals of Custer's Demise Were Generally Dramatic
Custer's Last Fight by Alfred WaudThe Noted Battlefield Artist Alfred Waud Portrayed Custer Facing Death BravelySitting BullSitting Bull Was a Respected Leader of the SiouxGrave of Myles KeoghCol. Myles Keogh of the 7th Cavalry Was Buried at the Little Bighorn SiteCuster's Funeral at West PointCuster's Body was Returned East and Buried at West Point
Whitman's Custer Death SonnetThe Poet Walt Whitman Wrote a Death Sonnet About CusterCuster's Attack on a Cigarette CardCuster's Exploits Portayed on a Cigarette CardLittle Bighorn on a Trading CardCuster's Last Stand was Portrayed on a Cigarette Trading CardCuster Monument StereographThe Custer Monument Portrayed On a Stereographic Card
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