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    The Poland Report from Standing Rock, July 24, 1876, Endorsed by Generals Sheridan and Sherman. 6th Infantry Captain John S. Poland (1836-1898) heard the stories of Lakota warriors who were returning to the agency after a month of hostilities. Some of them, he reported, had fought at the Little Bighorn. "The agent, of course," Poland complained, "makes no distinction between them and the other Indians at the agency." Worse, he "sent them word to keep quiet and say nothing." Many Indian agents on the northern plains were thought to have significantly underreported the numbers of Indians who left the reservations in May and June. Custer and other Army strategists in June may thus have been misled into underestimating the size of their opposition.

    The informants whom Poland interviewed provided unusual detail, such as the names of the principal war leaders who carried the fight to the 7th Cavalry. Historians of the battle have used this report in conjunction with other narratives in trying to reconstruct the events of June 25. This report is also the source for the story of a squad of cavalry who supposedly broke through the Indian lines and were run down and killed several miles from the battlefield. Col. M. V. Sheridan tells of the fruitless search he conducted based on the story.

    Most remarkable, perhaps, is the pyramid of weighty endorsements on the document. They begin with George D. Ruggles (1833-1904), Assistant Adjutant General for the Department of Dakota at St. Paul, Minnesota. Next is the signature of Lt. Gen. Philip Sheridan, Chicago, commanding the Division of the Missouri. At the top is the signed endorsement and instructions for distribution of the report by General William T. Sherman, Commanding General of the Army, at Washington, D.C. As a bookend, also in Washington, Adjutant General Edward D. Townsend initialed the report.

    An extraordinary collection of signatures on a historically significant document!
    From the Glenwood Swanson Collection.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2018
    9th Saturday
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