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100 Voices: Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapahoe, Crow, Arikara and American Eye-witness accounts of the Battle of the Little Bighorn

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This is a FREE EXCERPT from
Bruce Brown's 100 Voices...

Young Two Moon's Story of the Battle
A Northern Cheyenne's account of the Battle of the Rosebud

From an interview with George Bird Grinnell on September 12, 1908.
Here is Young Two Moon's account of the Battle of the Little Bighorn.



Northern Cheyenne war chief Young Two MoonTHE MAN WHO brought news into camp was Little Hawk. Camp was on Reno Creek. With some of the others he [Young Two Moon] rode about camp watching and listening-as if guards. Before anyone had come in, they were expecting something to happen and thought that they would be the first ones out. The first thing they heard was some one coming howling like a wolf. When they heard this they knew that someone was coming who had seen something. As soon as he heard it he rode toward the sound. When they reached Little Hawk, one of them asked, "What is it?" Little Hawk said, "Pretty near to the head of Rosebud where it bends to turn into the hills, as we were roasting meat we saw soldiers -- I think there are many Indians with them too. They may come right down the Rosebud." As soon as they could get ready, all the young men set out. John Two Moon came on with a party that struck Rosebud about the mouth of Thompson Creek. They got about two miles above this. They were headed off by the Cheyenne soldiers, who formed a line and would let them go no farther, because Little Hawk had expressed the opinion that the white soldiers were coming down the stream. They did not know where Little Hawk was but he had led a large party across through the Wolf Mountains.

There were about 200 men with Young Two Moon's party and one woman. They sent on ahead two Sioux and two Cheyennes. They were told if they found the troops to come back at once. After these four had been gone for some time the main body started after them.

Four Indians had been sent out for the troops as scouts on the east side of Rosebud. The four scouts sent out by Sioux and Cheyennes and those for the white troops saw each other. Scouts for troops were on the ridge but the four men for the Cheyennes and Sioux were down in the bottom. The four turned about. The scouts of the white soldiers turned about and rode back to the command. The Sioux and Cheyenne scouts rode zigzag as a sign that they had seen something and all the Indians in line down the creek charged up toward them. Before they came in sight of the soldiers this party could hear the guns and knew that they were fighting and kept on up the stream. Soon they heard the guns to the right and, leaving the bottom, crossed over the hills to the river again. They reached the top of the hills looking down into the Rosebud Valley and could see the soldiers chasing the Indians back into the hills. The soldiers were pretty strong. They could see the horses of the Indians falling and being wounded as they climbed the hills. They did not stop long on the divide but charged down on the soldiers, who stopped their pursuit and fell back.

Pictograph by Cheyenne woman warrior Buffalo Calf Road Woman at the Battle of the Rosebud from Spotted Wolf / Yellow Nose Ledger book

Now the party with Little Hawk turned their horses and charged so that there was a big body of men charging down on the soldiers. Chief Comes In Sight's sister [Buffalo Calf Road] charged down with the men. On the side from which they charged there was a little ridge running down and when they reached this Indians all dismounted and it hid them. Beyond was a nice level piece of ground. The Indians did not stay there. They mounted and started down toward the hills. Those who were out on the level ground, they had to fight though there was little cover. After Indians got back out of sight again Young Two Moon looked over and saw four cavalry horses starting toward the hill. Young Two Moon and Black Coyote started down after them and behind them two Cheyennes [and] two Sioux started. When they came in sight charging down, the soldiers made a charge to drive them back. Soldiers came near overtaking them and were shooting at them fast. Then Young Two Moon went too far to one side and did not get the horses. The soldiers charged him and he went a little too far so that the soldiers almost caught them. Then they turned back.

There was now fighting all along the line. The company of soldiers which were charging straight down stopped near the river. The six men who had charged when they saw they could do nothing, turned and went to join another body of Indians that were coming in above them. This body was chiefly of Cheyennes. They did not later go into the fight. Two men here did brave things. White Shield and a Sioux. [Note: this Sioux was Lazy White Bull.] They made a charge on the troops and Indians followed. When charge began the troops were dismounted, but when the charge was made they all mounted and retreated towards the main body of troops. The soldiers did not run far but wheeled and fell in line and fired a volley and then mounted and ran. Here White Shield killed a man, counted coup on and ran over him. The Sioux did the same.

On top of a little ridge the soldiers dismounted again. They tried to hold back Indians but after an officer was shot the body of Indians coming against them was great and troops retreated. Here a soldier could not mount his horse and White Shield rode between him and his horse to knock the reins out of his hand and free them. He killed and counted coup on this man who had a bugle. When Indians left the ridge from which troops had been driven they had to cross a steep gulch to get upon the next flat. On the flat a white soldier fell off or was wounded and lost his horse. A Cheyenne named Scabby Island [Scabby Eyelid] rode up to the soldier and tried to strike him with his whip. The soldier caught whip and pulled Indian off his horse. This soldier and this Indian got away unhurt.

Cheyenne war chief Spotted Wolf with Crazy headThe [army] Indian scouts . . . now made a charge and Sioux and Cheyennes ran. They now retreated across the deep gulch just crossed before. After crossing this the Cheyennes and Sioux wheeled and fired once and then turned and ran again. The number of soldiers was great. Now the soldiers made a strong charge and then Indians divided, some going down the ridge and some up. Young Two Moon left the ridge and when he got on the flat his horse got out of wind and there were the soldiers close behind him and coming fast. The Cheyennes who were up above could see a person there alone whose horse had given out.

Young Two Moon thought that this was his last day. He had to dismount, leave his horse and run off on foot. The bullets were flying pretty thick and were knocking up the dirt all about him. He saw before him a man advancing on a buckskin horse and he thought he was going to have some help, but the bullets flew so thick that the man turned and rode away. Again he saw a man coming toward him riding a spotted horse. He recognized the person, Young Black Bird (now White Shield). White Shield ran up to his side and told Two Moon to jump on behind him and he did so. So White Shield saved his life that day. They did not go very far, but farther than he could have gone afoot, when that horse began to lose its wind and give out. Soon they saw another man coming leading a horse that he had captured from the Indian scouts of the troops. It was Contrary Belly. Meantime two Sioux had dashed up to the two men but when they got close one of them said they are Cheyennes and they rode away. Then Contrary Belly came up and Young Two Moon jumped on the led horse and rode away. When they reached the main body of Sioux and Cheyennes they stopped and made a stand. The soldiers were still coming but there were so many Indians they stood them off. Here the fight stopped. The Cheyennes and Sioux stayed there a little while and then went away and left soldiers. Many men were wounded and many horses killed and wounded so that many Indians were on foot. After this fight Young Blackbird's name was changed to White Shield.

Lakota and Cheyenne: Indian Views of the Great Sioux War, 1876 - 1877, compiled, edited and annotated by Jerome A. Greene, University of Oklahoma Press 1994 p 26 -30

Young Two Moon (also known as John Two Moon) was the nephew of prominent Northern Cheyenne war chief Two Moon.

Here is Young Two Moon's account of the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

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