On June 25, 1876, one of the most prominent battles of the Sioux Wars was fought by the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry against the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes near the Little Bighorn River in south central Montana. Native inhabitants of the Great Plains fought in The Sioux Wars to resist the advances of encroaching settlers and to preserve their ways of life. The Battle of Little Bighorn, or Custer’s Last Stand, as it is also known, was a momentary victory for the Sioux and Cheyenne as the U.S. pushed to confine Lakota and Cheyenne to reservations. Notable participants included Chief Gall, Crazy Horse, and Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer, who died on this date in 1876. Eventually, the Lakota Sioux hunting grounds were invaded by U.S. Army forces, and the Black Hills were taken by the U.S. without compensation.
Pictured above is a postcard depiction of “Custer’s Last Stand,” painted by Cassilly Adams in 1884. The painting took one year to complete and was eventually acquired by the Anheuser –Busch Company brewery in 1896. Although the original was destroyed in a fire, many may recognize the painting from the numerous copies popular in barrooms, taverns, hotels, restaurants, and museums throughout the country.
The postcard of the painting is part of a collection of materials from Elmo Scott Watson (1892-1951), Professor of journalism (University of Illinois, Northwestern University, University of Denver) and western frontier historian. Watson’s papers include extensive topical files on western history subjects and journalism, his own newspaper columns, articles, and longer writings; and his correspondence, research, and teaching files.