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The powder keg of graft blew up when the Sioux refused to sell the Black Hills in 1875 and many of the younger men left the agencies to join “the Sitting Bull Sioux”—Hunkpapas and other so-called hostiles whom Army officers called “self-supporters.” George Custer, who had gotten himself in trouble in Washington testifying about the potentially lethal post trader swindle, had to do some fast talking to win back a role in the campaign to force the Sioux back to their agencies.The 7th Cavalry, including Tom Custer’s C Company and 2nd Sgt.C Company led the charge down to the Little Bighorn—such as it was.Finkle had trouble keeping up, probably because his height and weight imposed a heavy burden on his horse; he was the tallest enlisted man in the 7th Cavalry and one of the heaviest. Finkle hollered at me that he couldn’t make it, his horse was giving out.Corporal John Foley of C Company also broke through the cordon and was chased for miles by three teenage Indians armed only with bows.
George Custer refused three Gatling guns and a 3-inch Rodman cannon for his column, as well as two companies of the 2nd Cavalry, his first Civil War outfit. First Sergeant Edwin Bobo had bought a spare .22-caliber pistol by mail order—but forgot to bring it.
4/9/2007 • Wild West In the years between 1876 and the later 1920s, 70 grizzled galoots and geezers told amused journalists and historians that they were the lone survivors of the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
Their stories fell into one of three predictable patterns: disguised themselves as Indians by wrapping up in blankets; hid inside a scooped-out horse or a scooped-out buffalo; rescued by the chief’s daughter, who found them irresistible.
One man’s story was completely different—because he was telling the truth.
But before this article, the last few points of confirmation that clinch Frank Finkel as a survivor of Custer’s Last Stand were hidden in the National Archives, the U. Census Bureau and the records of the Columbia County Auditor’s Office in Dayton, Wash.
“I was riding close to Sergeant Finkle,” Sergeant Daniel Kanipe remembered in 1924. I answered back, “Come on, Finkle, if you can.” He dropped back a bit….