Hero or Traitor? Curly is Laid to Rest

Today in History, May 23, 1923:

Ashishishe, son of Strong Bear and and Strikes by the Side of the Water, husband to Bird Woman and later Takes a Shield, is laid to rest at the National Cemetery of the Bighorn Battlefield in Montana, alongside the members of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer’s 7th Cavalry who had died there on June 25, 1876.

He was known by his US Army contemporaries as Curly.

Curly was a Crow Indian serving the US Army as a scout with the 7th Cavalry leading up to the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Just before the battle began, as was customary, Custer released his Native American scouts. Curly rode off with the others, stopping on a hill about a mile away. He watched the battle through field glasses.

When it became obvious that the 7th would be defeated, Curly rode for two days until he met an Army supply boat at the confluence of the Big and Little Big Horn rivers, and made his report.

Curly told of how the 7th fought for hours, until they had expended all of their ammunition; by Curly’s estimation taking approximately 600 Sioux warriors with them.

Hailed as a hero for being the “lone survivor” reporters attempted to glorify his actions used poetic license to say that he was actually in the battle and escaped by pretending to be one of the Sioux allies.

Curly’s original and later accounts were that he “did nothing wonderful.” Some reporters “quoted” Curly as saying that he had been in the battle, which angered some of the Sioux that were. But in many accounts Curly repeated that he was not, and that he “did nothing wonderful.”

He served in the Crow Police and was given a military pension only three years before his death from pneumonia.

I find his story interesting as an example of why we must attempt to view history in the context of the times in which our ancestors lived.

Is Curly a traitor to his people because he served the US Army against other Indians? I found while researching this that at that time of the battle, the Sioux and the Crow were dire enemies, so the Crow allied with the US Army.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Did he “desert” the 7th Cavalry? No. It was customary not to keep the Indian scouts in the midst of battle; his leaving was expected of him.

Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka…”Separate but Equal” is NOT

Today in History, May 17, 1954:

In 1898 the Supreme Court had ruled in Plessy v Ferguson that keeping blacks and whites separate on railroad cars was constitutional, as “separate but equal” didn’t violate the 14th Amendment.

This was eventually perverted to most all public facilities being segregated.

In the 1954 Decision of Brown v Board of Education of Topeka, the Supreme Court Ruled that 3rd grader Linda Brown could attend a white school, and that segregation was illegal.

Future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall led the team that won this case.

Library of Congress

Today in History, April 24, 1800:

Happy Birthday to one of my favorite sources! On this date the Library of Congress was established. Congress allocated $5,000 for the initial purchase of books from London. The Library was charged with providing source material for Congress and for the American people. President John Adams signed off on the creating legislation. His successor, Thomas Jefferson, supported the Library also. Adams and Jefferson, once friends, became estranged after Jefferson defeated Adams for the Presidency.

But they both remained true to the Library of Congress. After the British invaded DC and burned the Library in the War of 1812, Jefferson sold his own vast library to the government to seed the recreation of the Library. In the late 19th century the charge of the Library was expanded to not only books, but photos and items of importance. The LOC now has over 135 million items for the Congress and the public to utilize…all books, pamphlets, maps, prints, photographs, and pieces of music registered for copyright have two copied registered in the library. Today, the Library is utilizing the latest technology to place as many of those items as possible online…so that it will truly be a source for all Americans.

By the way…those fast friends, Adams and Jefferson, who helped create America together in 1776, then became enemies, never speaking to each other in person after that fateful election? They exchanged somewhat conciliatory letters in their old age….but the old rivalry never expired. On July 4, 1826, the Nation’s 50th birthday, Adams died. His last words reportedly were, “Thomas Jefferson lives…”. But it was not so. Jefferson died a few hours before Adams on the same date.

Religious Freedom in Early America

Today in History, April 21, 1649:

The Maryland assembly passes the Maryland Toleration Act, which set a standard for religious freedom regarding Trinitarian Christians.

Maryland had been established as a haven for English Catholics in a majority Anglican world. The law would be repealed and reinstated as the colony went from Catholic to Protestant control.

This law establishing some rights to religion is considered the inspiration for the First Amendment.

It wasn’t entirely tolerant, however. If someone voiced that they did not believe in the divinity of Jesus, they could be put to death.

The Texas City Disaster

Today in History, April 16, 1947:

The Texas City Disaster, the worst industrial disaster in US History.

A French ship, the SS Grandcamp, loaded with 2300 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer in the port city of Texas City, across from Galveston, in the channel leading to Houston, explodes, devastating the city.

All but one of the town’s fire department were killed, and several other fires were ignited on other ships and in the oil town in the following days. Most of the city was destroyed, and at least 581 people were killed.

Evil Personified; Perseverance Exemplified

Today in History, April 11, 1945:

“To the Allies. To the army of General Patton. This is the Buchenwald concentration camp.

SOS.

We request help. They want to evacuate us. The SS wants to destroy us.”

The Allies were driving across Europe, and as a result, the German War Machine was in panic. When the Russians overtook concentration camps on their front, the Germans “evacuated” thousands of Jews, Gypsies and prisoners of war to their second largest concentration camp, Buchenwald, Germany.

Buchenwald had housed slave labor, and murdered thousands, since 1937. EIGHT interminable years of forced labor, torture, rape, experiments on human beings.

Now when the Americans approached Buchenwald, the SS planned to “evacuate” the prisoners there, and destroy the camp to destroy the evidence.

The hundreds of thousands of prisoners were…evidence.

The prisoners had managed to construct a makeshift transmitter and sent the above message in several different languages in desperation.

After years of no hope, of unimaginable horrors….they received a reply, “KZ Bu. Hold out. RUSHING TO YOUR AID. Staff of Third Army.” The prisoner who had risked his life to send the plea for assistance…fainted.

Emboldened, several prisoners who were able, charged the machine gun towers surrounding them and took control of the main camp (there were several satellite camps).

On April 11 elements of the US 9th Armored Infantry Battalion, U.S. 6th Armored Division, US Third Army (Patton’s Army) entered Buchenwald and liberated it.

US Army commanders ordered the Mayor and citizens of the nearby towns to provide food for the starving prisoners until US supplies could arrive.

Reportedly Patton ordered that the citizens of nearby towns, who had known of the atrocities but remained silent, to tour the camps that included stack after stack after stack of bone thin bodies. A lesson?

Each generation thinks that they have “progressed” beyond such inhumanity. It is a delusion. As long as man exists, evil will exist. It must be recognized and guarded against.

A.S.P.C.A. is Born

Today in History, April 10, 1866:

Philanthropist Henry Bergh begins the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in New York City.

While a diplomat in Russia, Bergh had been horrified by the mistreatment of horses by their Russian owners.

On his way back home, he spent time in London, and learned of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Inspired, he lobbied for the creation of a similar group at home.

New York gave the ASPCA authority to investigate and arrest for cruelty to animals, including horses and dog and rat fighting.

Eight years later Bergh and others would create the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

By 1888 thirty-seven of thirty-eight states had created versions of the ASPCA.