Battle of the Little Bighorn
(A Dactyl Poem)
Colonel George Custer’s famous fight, 1876
Native strength was misunderstood, error he couldn’t fix.
Big mistake, men gotten killed, in less than a single hour.
Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, there with overwhelming power.
Brazen man, golden hair, with aggressive battle manner,
Civil war renowned, rode forth under 7th Cav’s banner.
Major Marc Reno, and Captain Benteen, were at his side.
Forward they rode, as a troop on a flagrant arrogant ride.
High above the Crow’s Nest peak, Custer’s Indian scouts hide,
Viewing an Indian pony herd, back they quickly ride.
Ordered by Terry to wait nearby the Little Big Horn
Couldn’t restrain vainglorious pride, called attack that morn.
Scouts had seen village of Sioux far off, but of unknown size,
Custer had planned to take camp’s sleeping warriors by surprise.
Fast fought attack, would yield hostages used as human shields,
These were the rushed plans, as the troops raced across grassy fields.
Splitting his forces into three groups, planning pronged attack.
Reno made Southern approach, where the warriors pushed him back.
Benteen had wagon train post, supplies and reinforcements,
Custer broke off to attack without command’s endorsements.
With 265 men, hoping to hit from further North,
Concerned that his quarry would scatter fast, he sallied forth.
Foolish in confidence, knew not the odds, he really faced,
Or of the angry attitude, of Lakota he chased.
Reno was pushed into woods, defenses near the river.
Benteen came to support in battle that seemed forever.
Three days it raged, 340 men, dug in along the bluff.
Terry and Cooke’s reinforcements came, barely soon enough.
Custer wasn’t so lucky, as those in Reno’s command.
His own sad destiny became known as “Custer’s last Stand”.
Details are hazy as all of them died, little is known
Here are the facts as archeological facts have shown.
Custer chose Medicine Trail Coulee, where to ford the creek,
But the attack was rebuffed, Sitting Bull on higher peak,
Forcing the smaller Calvary troop to fight on the hill.
Dismounted, surrounded, left Crazy Horse in for the kill.
“Golden Hair’s” furious fight, bullet shot to chest and head.
With him, all men of the Calvary, were stripped, and lay dead.
Whiteman’s greed epitomized what caused this infamous stand.
Sitting Bull’s wrath, rightly released at theft of sacred land.
Redman won, his culture done, his rights were soon overrun,
Lost rising tide, torturous ride, when settlements begun.
No mercy found, who fought to survive, from this battleground,
Heartache and pain for natives remain, ghosts still hang around.
The Battle of the Little Bighorn is also known as Custer’s Last Stand. It is an iconic battle in many ways. It represented the last major battle of the Sioux Indian wars. It was fought after the US broke its promise that the sacred lands of the Black Hills would belong to the Native Americans forever, when gold was discovered there. There were thousands of troop deployed to round up what they thought would be 800 Indians who had left the reservation. Custer was a small part of the overall deployment. He started with more the 700 men under him, but split them up in order to attack.Custer unknowingly faced thousands of Indians, in addition to the 800 non-reservation “hostiles”. All Army plans were based on the incorrect numbers. Custer was more concerned with preventing the escape of the Lakota and Cheyenne than with fighting them. He intended to capture women, children, the elderly or disabled to serve as hostages and human shields. Custer’s battalions intended to “ride into the camp and secure noncombatant hostages” and “force the warriors to surrender”. Those plans and incorrect estimates proved fatal.
In quantitative verse, often used in Greek or Latin, a dactyl is a long syllable followed by two short syllables, as determined by syllable weight. In accentual verse, often used in English, it is a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables. For this poem I tried to maintain a line witrh a 14 count metermet and a cadence like:
Dum-da-da Dum-da-da Dum-da-Dum-da