Fencing Pliers and Banzai Charges, A Reader Weighs In

Trench Warfare

Marines From B Company, Batalion Landing Team 1/1 practice trench clearing techniques in the United Arab Emirates.  Ah yes, Sergeant Rullman and the lads, in the long, long ago.  

I have a good friend who is now a Colonel in the Marine Corps.  Once, in our youth, we served together, fraternizing, as it were, in various pubs and off-limits districts across the Pacific, until eventually sailing through the Straights of Hormuz to plant Old Glory and our regimentals in the greater sands of Araby.  He is a generous sort of officer, of the warrior-gentleman school, and once gave me his copy of NAVMAC 2890, The Small Wars Manual, which resides on my desk and whose pages I consult most frequently–a kind of Daily Word for the martial soul.

Occasionally, when he is not busy field-glassing the Russian bear from some crumbling cold war redoubt, or leading war fighters in one of the world’s sandboxes, he is able to send out riders carrying dispatches to the rear.  Always in duplicate, be assured, as lone messengers often vanish in the mountain passes.  I received such a dispatch yesterday, full in the comfort of my heavily sandbagged bunker in the snowy woods.

Hand written in the margins of pages torn from Once An Eagle, by Anton Myrer, and scrawled in obvious haste–for the enemy never sleeps–I thought it most worthy of publishing here.  It has been redacted for reasons of operational security, though the full text can be found on my personal server, which I keep downstairs in the Custer Bathroom–another story entirely.

From the dispatch:

I want to offer an extension of what I call The Rullman Theory; that a society’s rise or fall can be measured by its citizens’ bookshelves. For now I dub this offshoot the Tool Theory. The ability (or inability) of men to use and care for basic tools provides a window into a society’s state as a whole. The results of my anecdotal field research are not hopeful.

In 2005 me and the boys were out at this rather large airfield in Iraq and manning the defenses (which were poor at best, and upon reflection I don’t think the BC even once toured the line. But that’s another story all together). Naturally we went through the process of improving our positions.  This meant, among other things, stringing lots and lots of barbed wire.

Being the guy that I am I wrote home and had my Grandfather send me out some fencing pliers. For every job there is a perfect tool right? I get the pliers, break them out, and it was if I were showing the Marines some ancient Mesopotamian fertility fetishes. They had no idea what these pliers were for or how to use them or why somebody would create a set of pliers just for stringing barbed wire. The miles and miles of cattle fence all over the U.S. just string and maintain themselves right?  My attempts to instruct them on the use of the pliers provided only a small return on investment.  Oh well, perhaps there is now an I-phone app for that.

Ok, I thought.  Well these are all Ohio and upstate New York kids so maybe they get a pass.  But the next duty rotation was made up of Mexican-American kids from South Texas.  Surely one of them knows what fencing pliers are?  Alas, no.  My disappointment was not cured.  Worst of all, a Sergeant brought my pliers back to me one day with the rubber handle covers ripped off.  To not understand how a basic tool works is one thing, to return a man’s tool in a state of disrepair is a far worse sin.

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Jumping into the sea to avoid capture by US Marines

Fast forward to 2016.  We’re building the gear list for an upcoming deployment.  A third of the team are communicators.  I tell the Lt ordering the supplies to purchase one multi-meter for each Comm Marine on the team.  An hour later I get the question, “Sir, what is a multi-meter?”  The burden of command indeed.

Regarding Kate Bighead’s claims:  at the battle of Cannae, post battle accounts detail Roman troops, who, in the midst of the battle and their impending doom, attempted to bury themselves alive in order to kill themselves by asphyxiation. This means of suicide, while strange, would be seen as preferable to torture and a humiliating execution at the hands of Hannibal’s mercenaries. At Masada, about 1000 or so Jews committed suicide rather than risk capture by the Romans. Fast forward to the Pacific in the 1940’s: Okinawan’s jumping off cliffs, banzai charges into machine guns, Japan’s best admirals going down with the ship… Fast forward to today and suicide vest, suicide belt, and SVBIED are now mainstream terms when discussing warfare. For reasons of fear or honor, suicide is an element of the human experience of warfare.

Salute.

 

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Case Update: Holden-Olivas

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“Olivas worked as a sheepherder for Cone, went crazy, and shot Logan for no apparent reason.”

There is a golden eagle flying over our house right now, just at the limit of where the window will allow me to see it, turning great circles in the treetops.  This happens on occasion, when one of the nesting pair at Wychus Creek stretches out over the canyon and drifts this way in search of lunch.  It is always a fine site, and reminds me that you must leap over to FrontierPartisans.com and see Jim Cornelius’ piece on the Eagle Huntress.  Jim assures me that he is badgering the owner of Sisters Movie House to screen the film, and I will be among the first to claim a seat.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, and thanks to the gracious help of Sisters Library, this morning I have my hands on a book entitled “A History of Lynching in California Since 1875,” by Mr. Warren Franklin Webb.  This tome, which actually serves as Webb’s M.A. thesis from UC Berkeley, in 1934, is a fascinating read thus far.  It isn’t easy to lay hands on.  I could locate only four public copies anywhere, and one held in a private trust.  The version I am looking at was loaned by Evergreeen State College–and it is a photocopied microfiche version.

A lead, is a lead, is a lead.

And sometimes they fizzle out.  Webb’s treatment of the Holden-Olivas lynching is brief, drawing from sources I have already encountered, and recounting much of what is already known about the circumstances surrounding Holden and Olivas’ incarceration.

Webb cites the Lassen Advocate when stating that “the idea of having a lynching had been rumored for some time prior to January 23, but on this day the idea crystallized into a reality.”  One naturally wants to know how the Advocate reporter knew the idea of a lynching had been rumored, and for whom it actually crystallized.  Webb also contradicts other reports by claiming Sheriff Leakey was in the courthouse–this time sleeping–when the actual lynching occurred.

So either Leakey was dancing, or sleeping, when two men in his custody were dragged out of their cells and brutally murdered.

Webb goes on to say “This lynching aroused considerable excitement in Susanville at the time but as far as is known no attempts were ever made to bring the perpetrators of the lynching to justice.”  That claim, contradicted elsewhere, is focal to my investigation.

And there is one more piece I find worth sharing.  In addition to referencing the Coroner’s jury verdict on the manner of Holden and Olivas’ deaths, Webb quotes an editorialized report from the Lassen Advocate:

“All law abiding citizens cannot but condemn this manner of execution, be the culprits ever so guilty, and as the law was taking its own course, it is still more inexcusable…Mob-law is to be censured by all who have the interest of our country at heart.  We have legal tribunals for this purpose, and when men become so exasperated as to take the law into their own hands they not only violate the law, but they lay the foundation for further violations.  We will not say that these culprits did not deserve hanging, but for the reputation of our town and State, it would have been better for the law to take its course.”

I have also been in touch with a local historian in Susanville, who may, given a certain demonstrated recalcitrance, feel that I am trespassing on his back forty.  Time will tell, but the hoped for–and frankly, expected–vehicle of academic courtesy is thus far running on a flat tire.  Nevertheless, he was–likely inadvertantly–able to help flush out some much needed background on Olivas.  He “Who Shall Remain Nameless” writes: On the evening of November 11, 1885, Griffin (sic) Logan, foreman for J.S. Cone’s sheep operations, was murdered at his camp in the vicinity of Badger Flat by Vincente Olivas, aka Mexican Ben. Olivas worked as a sheepherder for Cone, went crazy, and shot Logan for no apparent reason.

You can see why this is not exactly satisfactory for the purposes of an investigation.  One suspects that my nameless local historian knows much, much more.  We are playing a game, it seems, he and I, and if that is the case then consider me all-in.  But even this tease is a lead, and thus far J.S. Cone himself is proving to be something of a character.  More on him in later updates.

Now, go check out the amazing young woman and her Hunting Eagle.  You’ll be glad you did.

Fixing Stupid, A Rant in 10 Stanzas

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It still doesn’t feel right…

We have been re-educated now, for decades, with the notion that our feelings are important.  It’s how we feel about a subject that matters.  The psycho-analytic crowd loves this, and has grown rich from it.  Oh gee, Molly, how did that make you feel?

It isn’t hard to reverse engineer how this vision of ourselves has warped into reality television, road rage, school shootings, and an overall collapse of patience and civility.  When you are repeatedly told that you are, in fact, the center of the universe, all projections of your personal feelings are valid.  Thusly, if you cut me off in the parking lot, and my feelings are hurt, I am justified in flattening your tires or running you down with a shopping cart.  You made me feel bad.

I’m not breaking new ground here, but I would like to announce, and for all time, that how a cocky and rude 12 year old feels about anything in particular doesn’t interest me that much.  Also, I don’t care about how Madonna felt when she fell off the stage in Paris.  Not one bit.  One of the last holdouts in the Malheur Refuge told Oregon Public Broadcasting this morning that it doesn’t “feel fair” that some of them are still subject to arrest.  Pshaw.

The Donald Trump candidacy is perhaps, and I’m on a limb here (albeit a thick one), the ultimate expression of our cultural insistence on obliging mere feelings.  He has tapped into the social media “Like & Send” mentality with pinpoint precision.  There are millions of little dopamine responses every time he announces he will build a wall, or Make America Great Again.  But nobody knows what he actually thinks, which would be impossible, given that he doesn’t tell us–ever.  He’s extremely adept at saying absolutely nothing.  And the enormous response from the sign-waving, weeping, feeling-addicted masses is evidence of our collective beaching in the emotive shallows.

But go ahead and vote for him, if you feel like it.

The annual Black Friday riots are a logical apex of our indulgence in feelings, since it is quite apparent that reason is not a part of the now ritualized fistfights for Bermuda Barbies or 40″ flat screens.

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Feelings, nothing more than feelings…photograph by Ray Tang 

Feelings don’t fix a flat tire.  They don’t even fix bad relationships, or make good one’s better.  They can be a genesis for those things; however, simply feeling I need to feed the horses or shovel some manure has never, not even once, got it done.

The commentary sections on most news pieces or editorials almost instantly devolve into schoolyard tribalism, so much so that often, after scrolling through the emotional tanglefoot, one finds that the merits of the article itself aren’t even part of the discussion.  Internet commandos are never lost for feelings, one way or the other.

Can we agree that perhaps it’s what we think that is actually important?  That perhaps we should start insisting that folks–especially those we might be considering for office– take the time to reason arguments through–to actually think, to meditate on cause and effect, to anticipate a counter-argument, to build a case, to substantiate, to research and cite sources, to attempt to persuade with articulated reasoning?  Is that too much?  Is it too late?

One thing we simply don’t see much of anymore are bookshelves, that is, with actual books on them.  Maybe that’s a place to start.  And don’t lambaste me with evidence drawn from your circle of friends.  The results from a larger sampling are in, and the evidence is clear:  most people just don’t read.  Big Screen TV’s?  Check.  Gigantic iPhone?  Check.  An Escalade in the driveway?  Check.  Faulkner, Flaubert, or McCarthy?  Not on your life.

 

The First Tragedy of Malheur

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LaVoy Finicum and Ammon Bundy-photo from thegatewaypundit.com

This morning the Nugget News published a column I wrote regarding the tactical approach to resolving the Malheur Refuge takeover.  The timing was mere accident.  You can see it here.  In the article I was deliberately not discussing the political considerations driving the decision-making process, merely the modern tactical approach to resolving an armed resistance with as little violence as possible.

Most anyone with any law enforcement experience could see the necessity, and the opportunity, to conduct a “road-kill” operation, which is a police euphemism for taking a subject away from a place where they have control over the outcome, conducting a traffic stop, and taking them into custody.  In the event, this is precisely what happened.

I deliberately did not use the term road-kill in my article, and for all of the obvious reasons.  And I am grateful for that, because a man is now dead, which is the worst possible outcome.

We are going to hear a lot now from dubious, or worse–completely unreliable–sources that LaVoy Finicum was in the act of surrendering when he was killed.  This kind of claim is now the go-to strategy for those seeking to bolster their claims of victimhood at the hands of law enforcement.

Having conducted any number of felony traffic stops, I find it very hard to believe that Finicum was killed with his hands in the air while peacefully surrendering.  That is taken straight from the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” fiction propagated post-Ferguson.  It defies logic in this case, particularly in the face of Finicum’s own statements to the media, where he pronounced a willingness to die rather than face incarceration.

There is something very Tom Hornish, in Finicum’s statements, where he almost wistfully announces that he won’t trade his bedroll and his horse for a prison cell.

But it also telegraphs a big punch, and cops are trained to listen very carefully to anyone who says, “I won’t go to jail,” or “I won’t go back to jail.”  It is an immediate indicator of a subject’s capacity and/or intention for violent resistance, and it informs everything that happens afterward.

I think it is more likely that Finicum presented a weapon, and was killed because of it.  And it simply reeks of suicide by cop, because he must have known what was going to happen the second the overhead lights came on behind them, and that his chances of survival were virtually zero.

I have never met a cop who went to work wanting to kill someone.  I suppose they exist.  And I know that there are “bad” shootings–many times less than hyperbolic reports in the media would have us believe–but they do happen.  They are also an inescapable outcome of enforcing laws in a nation of 350 million people, a great number of whom find it appropriate to resist arrest.

I sincerely doubt this was one of those events.

I have no love affair for the abuse of power.  I have written at length in these pages about my feelings toward those whose badges weigh too much, and that nasty and arrogant cavalcade of “police executives” (a sexy new term they are using, by the way, replacing their former love affair with “police managers”) who couldn’t lead a sow to wallow.  Elsewhere, I have made a mission to help highlight and change the egregious leadership failures inside my former department.  Where they are wrong, I will hammer law enforcement relentlessly.

This isn’t over, and I sincerely hope that those who remain inside the Malheur Refuge don’t choose the Masada route, but rather surrender with dignity and without further bloodshed.  They should come out and fight their cause in the media, and in the courts.  They can’t win their current strategy, not by a long shot, and no one else needs to die.

 

Lamentations

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The author, with Bengal Tiger, Montgomery Pass, Nevada

I was not comfortable around the tiger.  To say otherwise would be a lie, and it is evident in the photo.  I’m sitting a respectable distance back, with a strange, indecisive grin on my face.  Much like a Great White shark, a full grown Bengal tiger does not have eyes that are inviting of trust and appreciation.  Plus, it’s a cat, a hungry one no doubt, and hungry cats are a known quantity of deception.  But I couldn’t resist getting in on a photo.

The tiger had been residing in a two horse open trailer in the parking lot of Soper’s Casino, walled off from a terrified colt by sheets of plywood.  When we pulled into the lot, a slush and mud concoction that citizens of Deadwood would have recognized, I walked over innocently to look at the horse.  Then I saw the tiger, jumped two feet in the air, felt the grab of unadulterated terror, and premium outback shock.  And what is the outback?  That good country where all things are not just possible, they often happen, sometimes with legendary flair.

Thirty minutes before discovering the tiger I was feeding out cows from an old flatbed Studebaker I managed by virtue of starting fluid, a stream of cussing, and baling twine knotted around the steering wheel–because I was on the back, flying by wire and kicking off bales to cows covered in ice at 10 mph–and when that chore was finished my grandfather and I drove to the top of Montgomery Pass to have breakfast at Soper’s Casino.

Soper’s no longer exists, except in my memory, as a wind-raked (elevation 7,167) truck stop and casino where I played 21 on day-work pay, and watched, one summer afternoon, on a barstool, OJ Simpson’s famous pursuit on the LA freeway system.  It is now, like much of Nevada, fired, crumbling, ransacked, and returning to the earth.

But it reminds me of a country I hope we never lose.  There is a lot happening in the Modern West, there always is, and some of it–where we allow it–still resembles that land of limitless opportunity for the strange and unruly that once existed in our beloved Old West.  There’s the Bundy thing, for certain–which has the stigma of unfortunate and enduring seriousness–there is Burning Man, which exists on the opposite end of the spectrum, and there are still cowboys and rangers and bandits and shopkeepers.  But I have a growing fear that that the brackets are closing in precipitously, that we are in danger of losing forever that openness and even recklessness which once defined us.

I think we might lament one day, privately or in print, losing our sense of utter outback, of the pure, or intentionally, crazy, our ability to enjoy the eccentrics and the far-outs who live on the dead frontier.  Each passing year we grow closer to completely assimilating and mainstreaming a wild country that hosted any number of opportunities for the bizarre, the original, and the unimpeded.

We have seen it changing, as we ourselves have changed, pinched perhaps by the pressures of modern life to conform into a largely homogenous–and subsequently uninteresting–brand of the species.  We make gatherings to celebrate those things that define us even as we are losing them.  Particularly because we are losing them.  I’m reminded of the ghost dance, born not far from where I was raised, and those desperate attempts to simply dance back into existence a dying life we once enjoyed.  And we know how that ended.

Still, I sing lamentations for what we might lose, and I am angry that the best I can do is concoct a kind of modern day ghost dance, in pathetic paragraphs, against the tide of rigid and boring comfort that is becoming our shared experience.

Down the road from my grandfather’s place was a perfectly legal Nevada brothel–Janey’s Ranch.  The hookers from Janey’s used to meet us at the top of Montgomery Pass in the fall, when we herded cattle home from the Basalt Range.  They would gather with platters of food and drink on the highway outside of Soper’s Casino, hoisting trays of margaritas and limes, brilliant in whatever revealing outfit best kept them warm in the wind, smothering the cowboys with smiles and best wishes, laughs, and bad jokes.  They were having a lot of fun, and so were we, while the cows bawled and mothered up with their calves in bad skies and spitting snow.  And that was the sum total of the contract.  I’m not sure anything of its kind exists anywhere else, or ever will again, but it was modern then and it was real and it was precisely the unbridled outback I love the most.

Today, Janey’s is also gone.  The old sign on the highway–made from a gigantic boiler tipped on its side and painted silver–reads, in black paint: “Janey’s Ranch…closed.  Beat it.”  Still a message worthy of the plain-spoken west.

And what about the tiger?  Three months after my grandfather and I ran into this tiger, it mauled to death the man who knelt beside me in the photograph.  I know that because my grandfather sent me, by US Mail–the way we used to do–a newspaper clipping reporting the event.  In the margins my grandfather had scribbled, “Told you so.”

Holden-Olivas Case Update

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A Note on the Event, No More, No Less

I was able to find, this morning, and from of all places the Auckland Star, an interesting bit on the case.  The article was published on March 20, 1886.

Referencing Holden Dick’s murder of Shaw–“In his confession he narrated all the sickening details of the crime and took the Sheriff of Modoc County, (C.C. Rachford) and others, to the spot where the head of Shaw was thrown and where the skull was found.  In his statement he implicated a white man, who died soon after the murder.”  So here is the second reference I have found suggesting Dick beheaded Shaw, and the second hint at a murder for hire scheme. 

The problem is, I don’t know the original sourcing of this Auckland Star piece, as it embellishes on the original Lassen Advocate piece, and the other reference I have is an entirely hearsay account.  So, more work.

An unhelpful call into the Modoc County Sheriff’s department revealed that they do not have records stretching back to 1886.  This seems spurious.  I will be writing a letter directly to the Sheriff, and I would be very surprised if records don’t magically appear, or at least a willingness to help find them.  If there is an account existing of the aforementioned event, I must have it; I want to know precisely what Dick said, and didn’t say, during his confession.

The first rule of investigation:  a lie is as good as the truth.

“Murder books,” as the compiled record of a homicide investigation is referred, looked A LOT different in 1886 than they do now.  I have read a two paragraph investigative account of a murder that took place in Santa Barbara, at a much later date, which accounts almost entirely for the historical record of the investigation.

Today’s murder books can run into dozens, and additional dozens, of three ring binders.

A second call, put into the Lassen County Superior Court, resulted in a much better response.  Records exist back to 1894, though handwritten and bound.  For a few bucks I can request any of them.  I simply cannot wait to get my hands on the direct records of the trials of both Holden and Olivas, whatever they may amount too, and any subsequent records pertaining to the lynchings themselves.

The second rule of investigation:  a lead, is a lead, is a lead.

Finally, a word on Sheriff Jeremiah Leakey, who was out dancing at the time of the lynchings.  His death is reported in The Big Valley Gazette, on December 3, 1902, and it is noted of the man in his obituary that “He was in a measure deficient in the education of the schools, but he possessed a fine natural intelligence and a fund of quaint humor that made him a most entertaining companion.  Young people and little children particularly found in Jerry Leakey a considerate friend and during his incumbency of the office of Sheriff, it was rare, indeed…that his buggy was not filled with them.  To delight the little ones seemed to give him pleasure; and if there be one characteristic that would better entitle a man to a patent of nobility, we know not of it.”

Signs and wonderments, my friends, signs and wonderments.

Kate Bighead Did Not Lie

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Last Stand Hill, Little Bighorn National Battlefield.  The black marker in the center denotes the location where Custer’s body was found.  Photo by the author.

My obsession with the Battle of the Little Bighorn is my father’s fault.  When I was ten years old he flew us from Van Nuys, California, to Cody, Wyoming, in his light airplane.  We made a stop for fuel and a burger in Provo, Utah, then carried on, grinding over the rockies in magnificent turbulence and where, for the first and only time, I barfed all over the instrument panel.  We were on the heels of a ferocious storm, and when we landed in Cody there were airplanes, ripped free of their tie-downs, sitting wrong side up all over the tarmac.  We rented a car from an absolute lunatic at the Cody Rent-A-Wreck (it was) and took a room–the Phonograph Jones Suite to be precise–at the Irma Hotel.

Next day we bombed out to the battlefield, which is when my obsession began.  We spent hours there, walking the entire length of the battlefield–it was walk-only in those days, and a much better experience–from the ford where Reno attacked the south end of the camp, to Last Stand Hill, studying maps, and thinking the country back in time until I could almost hear the gunfire, the cries of the men and the horses, could feel the heat and the dust, and could imagine looking down across the river to see the largest gathering of plains Indians ever.  It was big medicine, then as now.

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If you share any part of my obsession with this event, you are likely aware of Kate Bighead, the Cheyenne woman who witnessed the fight from its beginning–she was bathing in the river when Reno began his charge–to its chaotic conclusion, and has bequeathed to us a fascinating account.  But not without controversy.  In her telling of the fighting she says she witnessed many of Custer’s soldiers killing themselves.  Describing a desperate charge–or perhaps an attempt to escape–by mounted troopers down a coulee toward the Little Bighorn river, she says:  “I saw one of the white men there kill himself, with his own gun, just after they got off their horses.  Soon afterward I saw another one do the same act.  From where I was I had a clear view of the soldiers..I think that only a few soldiers, maybe not any of them, were killed by the Indians during the few minutes of fighting there.”

Bighead also describes the last few moments on Last Stand Hill.  “The shots quit coming from the place where the soldiers were lying behind their dead horses.  All of the Indians jumped up and ran toward them, supposing all of them were dead.  But there were seven of the white men who sprang to their feet and went running toward the river…there was such a rush and mixup that it seemed the whole world had gone wild.  There was such a crowd, and there was so much dust and smoke in the air, that I did not see what happened to the seven men who ran down the hillside.  Hundreds of Sioux and Cheyenne warriors were after them.  The talk I heard afterward was that all of them, and all of the others who had been hidden behind the horses, killed themselves.”

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Replica Lodge, Little Bighorn National Battlefield.  Photo by the author.

The controversy from Bighead’s interview with Thomas Marquis, given when she was eighty years old, was immediate and intense, though not entirely unique.  Wooden Leg, also a Cheyenne, and who participated in the fighting, made the same claims.  These claims of suicide amongst members of the U.S. Army were loudly denounced by many, who saw them as giant stain on the honor of the cavalry and U.S. military tradition.

It has been postulated, and perhaps with some legitimacy, that many of the natives who made these claims, not trusting the whites, did so because they feared prosecution for telling of their roles in the battle.  Many of the participants were notably reluctant to discuss the battle at all with white historians.  And that makes perfect sense, given that they had absolutely zero reason to trust the motives of white men, no matter how many years had passed, or how innocent the line of questioning.

But rejecting, out of hand, the notion that troops from the 7th Cavalry might have killed themselves, or even each other, perhaps even in large numbers, is foolish.  What would motivate Kate Bighead to lie about seeing soldiers shoot themselves?  In all other aspects her interview appears perfectly reasonable and factual.  It seems unlikely to me that she simply made it up.  A forensic examination of the language she uses is important, given that she is quite clear when she tells us what she saw happen in the first instance, and references what she was told had happened in the second.  The distinction is important and I think sufficiently buttresses the truthfulness of her account.  I think at least some of the men at the Little Bighorn killed themselves.

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Two where they fell, Little Bighorn Battlefield

The late John Keegan, for my money the best military historian ever, writes in The Face of Battle “the rhetoric of battle history,” by which he means “that inventory of assumptions…that is so inflexible and above all so time-hallowed that it exerts virtual powers of dictatorship over the military historian’s mind.”

I’m not breaking new ground here, but I wanted to stand up for Kate Bighead this morning.  I think her testimony is reliable, and that it is highly probable that troopers shot themselves, and shot each other, in a strange fugue state of panic  Somewhat removed from the fight, she would have enjoyed a much broader perspective of the battle, and the freedom, as she moved around, to focus on individual dramas as they played out in the heat and the dust and the sagebrush.