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    Sheridan's Report on the Reburial of the Little Bighorn Dead: A True Copy Dated, July 20, 1877, signed by Lt. Col. James Forsyth. Lt. Gen. Philip Sheridan was commander of the Military Division of the Missouri, headquartered in Chicago. His responsibility encompassed all of the Great Plains. It was he who had intervened with the War Department to have G. A. Custer placed at the head of the 7th Cavalry the year before. Though campaigning was not over on the northern plains, in May Sitting Bull had crossed with his followers into Canada at almost the same moment that Crazy Horse surrendered to the army with his followers. It was time to account for the Little Bighorn dead. Sheridan dispatched his brother and aide-de-camp, Lt. Col. Michael V. Sheridan (1840-1918), to Montana.

    This remarkable 8-page document, an official copy of Michael Sheridan's report, is signed by Lt. Col. James W. Forsyth (1834-1906), at the time an aide to Lt. Gen. Sheridan as Military Secretary for the Division of the Missouri. Forsyth, a Brevet Brigadier General by the end of the Civil War, is most often remembered as the commander of the 7th Cavalry at Wounded Knee during the frigid winter of 1890-1891.

    By his opinions (for example, on the trustworthiness of Curly, the Crow scout) and detailed observations, Sheridan gives this report a life and interest absent from most dry military reports. Emotion still very obviously ran high. Accompanying Sheridan as an expert witness was 7th Cavalry Captain Henry Nowlan (1837-1898) who had been attached to Terry's command and was one of the first on the scene of Custer's disaster (see Swanson, G. A. Custer: His Life and Times, p. 97). He describes the recovery of the known officers' remains and the search for additional officer burials by following a path "plainly marked by the line of dead..." The procedures for identifying and removing the remains for reburial make one of the least known but most affecting stories of the Little Bighorn. In Swanson, G. A. Custer: His Life and Times, a photograph of M. V. Sheridan and a detailed look at the report is on pages 241-245.
    From the Glenwood Swanson Collection.

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    9th Saturday
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