tv Myths of the Western Indian Wars CSPAN October 30, 2016 8:55am-10:01am EDT
schedule or watch a recent program. road to the white house rewind and more at c-span.org/history. tv,ext on american history the author of "the earth is he talks about what he argues are three big myths of the wars that have been perpetuated in popular culture. the buffalo bills center of the west posted this hour-long program. >> this is a remarkable opportunity for us at the center of the west because what we know, or what we think we know about the indian wars of the american west is mostly wrong. for more than a century, movies and novels, comic books and serious art, pseudo-scholarly
studies and popular culture have spun clouds of myth around the violent collection -- collision of native americans and the ongoing, irrepressible, unstoppable western march of the new american nation. it has fallen to historian peter cozzens to set the world straight. " is a goodis weeping read. amazon has declared it to be one of 2016.p books the story of standing bear, the chief who rode out of his village to talk with the soldiers who had come to completely surround it. he is holding forth the piece metal he had been given a short time before by president lincoln in washington.
standing bear was shot dead in his saddle by a trooper. also the telling of custer's attack on the village in the washy to valley. this was years before little bighorn. custer split his troops to attack on a cold winter night. riding beside custer was a captain named lewis hamilton, the grandson of alexander hamilton. he was shot in the chest and died on the spot. these stories, however compelling, telling the story -- tying these stories to a westtive of the american zins is the author of 16 books. his works have been featured in the book of the month selections
and he has won numerous awards. remarkably, peter is not a professional historian. he was a distinguished foreign retirement,re his writing acclaimed history as he served his country in trouble spots around the world. we are delighted that he has come for this presentation, the very first public event for "the earth is weeping." it is with great pleasure that we welcome one of america's great tellers of stories, my friend peter co zzens. [applause] mr. cozszens: i would like to thank you for that introduction and for inviting me, and for all that has gone into making this presentation a possibility.
and to the buffalo bills center for your house -- hospitality. ago,e i begin, two years maybe two and half years ago i was struggling to put this book together. i was thinking one evening about places i would like to speak, places i thought would be appropriate venues for presenting this book. the first venue that came to mind was the buffalo bills center of the american west. i had not yet had the pleasure oftim's friendship but it was the place i most wanted to talk. this was particularly gratifying to me to be here. i would like to start my presentation with a moment from the movies. can anyone here tell
anyone here tell me what this scene is, and from what movie? this is where you see dustin hoffman in one of his many incarnations in little big man. in this incarnation, he is a reluctant and perplexed army scout watching george armstrong custer, a clearly self-satisfied, self important custer, preening himself before riding off to the battle of little bighorn. when i began work on my book, i had many questions, more
questions than answers, of course. such questions was george armstrong custer seen here wondering if custer was a reckless glory hunter. was geronimo and indian hero? was wounded knee a terrible tragedy? was that a massacre? i found the mythology of the indian wars intruding and obscuring the answers. i think i have worked out the answers to these and other significant questions pertaining to the american west to my satisfaction.
i hope you will find my answers to your satisfaction as well. in working out these questions and developing a narrative, i again had to cut through this shroud of mythology that has enveloped the indian wars, and that is what i want to talk about this afternoon. to some degree, myth always distorts history, but the indian wars are like the frontier in general, the indian wars are particularly uniquely susceptible to mythmaking. i would argue after working on my book that there is no other at stake in our nation's history that is more deeply steeped in myth than the era of the indian wars of the american west. for 125 years, much of both
popular and even academic history, film and fiction, has depicted the period as an absolute struggle between good and evil. reversing the roles, he rose and villains as necessary to accommodate a changing national conscience. in the first 80 years following the tragedy of wounded knee and 1891, which marked the end of indian resistance, the nation romanticized and lionized indian fighters, while at the same time trivializing or vilifying the indians who resisted them. the army appeared as the shining knights of an enlightened government dedicating to
civilizing the west and its native american inhabitants. no one i think better conveys that sense than the cinematic duo of john wayne and director john ford in films like "she wore a yellow ribbon" and "rio grande" and on and on. the pendulum swung to the opposite extreme, americans were developing an acute sense of the countless wrongs done to the indians. remember this was about the same time as the civil rights movement was burgeoning. brown's passionately written "bury my heart at wounded knee"
and our friend "little big man" shaped the new saga that articulated the nation's feeling of guilt. with books like "bury my heart at wounded knee" and "little big man," the public mind came to see the government and the army as willful exterminators of the native peoples of the west, and so it continues in large measure in popular culture even today. in the "earth is weeping", i tried to bring a historical balance to the story of the indian wars. i hate to use a word like restore historical balance, which often in revisionist
history, this author has restored balance -- i hesitate to use that word because in the case of the indian wars, it is the pendulum swings that have largely defined society's understanding of the period. the first step to presenting a balanced history is to strip away the myths. there are far too many myths to address them all today, so out what i would like to do in the time we have is to address what i consider to be the three most egregious myths and the three that are most commonly held, certainly the ones people repeated me and discussing the indian wars must frequently. here they are. the first, myth in, that the regular army was hell-bent on killing indians. number two government indian
policy was exterminatist. and myth number three the indians united to resist. the whites i will never again show the slide because i had no idea how small the letters appear. i apologize before hand, but i will try to compensate for that. this roughly is that the editor of the indian wars, the area that is addressed in my book. essentially it is all of the united states west of the missouri river and the arkansas rivers, all the way west to the
eastern border of california, and even spilling over into the northwest, pacific northwest, from the border of canada all the way south beyond arizona and texas, new mexico, even into northern mexico. the principle tribes, i will limit my remarks to the principal tribes that we will be talking about this evening, they are the tribes of the lakota nation that occupied much of eastern montana, dakota territory, and some of nebraska, the northern cheyenne. closer to home, the shoshone, the crow, the southern cheyenne, the kyowa, the pawnee of nebraska, and the modoc or
and idaho. those of the tribes we will be referring to. the lakota nation, the largest most powerful indian people on the plains, allies of northern cheyenne, southern cheyenne, the apache, the shoshone, crow, pawnee of nebraska, and the modoc of the oregon-california border. ok, i hope i have given you a bit of a field. i apologize for the size of this map. let's go ahead and debunk our three myths, beginning with the false notion that the army was eager to kill indians.
does anyone recognize this jaunty gentleman? that's right. general george crook. he had a habit of issuing uniforms, he wrote to campaign and a helmet, jacket, and pans carrying a shotgun. he was quite a character. he was also one of the army's premier, absolute premier, fighting general and the west. during the height of the indian wars, a newspaper reporter asked him how he liked his job. crook replied, not much. it was a hard thing, he explained, to be forced to do battle with indians who more often than not wear in the
right. crook said, "i do not wonder and you will not wonder either that when indians see their wives and children starving and their source of supplies cut off, they go to war, and then we are sent out there to kill them. it is an outrage. all tribes tell the same story. they are surrounded on all sides. their game is destroyed or driven away. they are left to starve, and there remains the one thing for them to do, to fight while they can. our treatment of the indian is an outrage." that a general would offer such candid and forceful public defense of the indians during the course of the indian wars may seem implausible today
because it contradicts that first myth, that the army was the implacable foe of the indians, and other words hell-bent on killing indians. let's consider these two distinguished gentleman. this is a photograph taken years after hostilities ended. the man holding the large hat is chief joseph. the man beside him is colonel john gibbons, some of you may know john givens from the battle of gettysburg. he almost single-handedly defeated pickets charge. chief joseph was the leader, the leader of one band of indians. he resisted that he and others move on to idaho, but was killed and the indians fled east.
colonel gibbon was ordered to intercept them. on the night of august 7, 1877, gibbons deployed his 155 men on a high hill at big hole, montana territory. gibbon would have been sitting right about here in the dark, the village was arrayed along the big hole river down here. dawn was still several hours away, and gibbon had nothing much to occupy his time, so he meditated on the morale of the of his mission. later, he shared with the bishop of montana the misgivings he felt while sitting on that hill waiting to attack the unsuspecting indians in the
morning. "knowing our peaceful disposition as you do, you can fancy seated for hours in the darkness of the night within plain hearing of a parcel of crying babies and the talk of their fathers and mothers waiting for light enough to commence a slaughter, which we knew from the nature of things must necessarily be promiscuous. we had ample time for reflection, and i for one could not help thinking that this in human task was forced upon us by a system of fraud and in justice which had compelled these poor wretches to assume a hostile attitude towards the white." well, the slaughter was all that gibbon feared it would be.
19 indians were killed or wounded among them, and women and children. gibbon lost half of his command and would have been wiped out himself had the indians not been more interested in continuing their flight for freedom than in fighting. the indians were final corralled by colonel nelson miles on a snowy morning of october 5, 1877 in montana and forced a surrender. colonel miles seen here with chief joseph, colonel miles took no pleasure in his victory. he recognized that "fraud and injustice" had precipitated the conflict, and he thought that the indians were "would be made
loyal friends in six months with anything like honesty and justice on the part of the government." but the people of idaho threaten to lengthy indians if they -- to lynch indians if they returned, so the federal government felt compelled to shun them to a reservation in present-day oklahoma. it was a rather dubious act of mercy. in a country unfamiliar to them, nearly every baby born died of disease. in years to come, miles made common cause with chief joseph and loudly protested the governments treatment of the indians. miles was not the only high-ranking officer to defend the indians against injustices. another prominent general, john pope, who some of you may know as the loser of the second
battle of bull run to robert e. lee, john pope actually suggested that soldiers be sent to hopi indians it eliminate -- to help indians it eliminate white interlopers on indian land. at stake in this instance with the very survival of the way of life of the southern plains tribes. they had been defeated in 1869 and concentrated also on reservations in present-day oklahoma, which was then called indian territory. for four years, the tribes lived a sort of half-life, supplementing their too often meager government rations with buffalo meat. then the white buffalo hunters came. they had decimated the herds of western canada, and now they set up shop in an abandoned trading
post on the texas panhandle called adobe walls, and then resume the killing on indian reservation land. few, unfortunately, besides the indian cared. in fact, general pope's superior officer, general philip h sheridan, reveled at the slaughter. he told the legislature of texas, which actually was contemplating a buffalo conservation bill, that the buffalo hunters had "done more to settle the indian problem in two years than the army had done in 30. for the sake of lasting piece, let them kill and skin until the buffalo is exterminated." well, sheridan making these lofty pronouncements assumed the fighting spirit had left the southern plains tribes. he was wrong. at dawn on june 27, 1874, 500
warriors spilled down a steep ridge a half-mile east of adobe walls and made a -- to wipe out the despised buffalo hunters. the doors of the shack slam shut and the 29 white men battled the attackers to a standstill. one of the buffalo hunters managed to slip through the indian lines at night and rode to kansas for help. the governor of kansas in turn appealed to general pope to dispatch troops to raise a siege. the governor turned to the wrong man. general pope turned him down flat. "indians, like white men, are not reconciled to start -- to starve peacefully," he
told the governor. the buffalo hunters deserve all that may befall them. the locality of these unlawful establishments, i would break them up and not protect them." pope's response infuriated general sheridan. sheridan ordered pope to send troops forthwith to save the buffalo hunters at adobe walls. in the meantime, however, the indians had wearied of the struggle and withdrawn. but pope's principled stand costs him his command and affected his future in the army. another general gave substantially more in the interest of justice. he sacrificed his life. it was april, 1873, he was here in the lava beds of northern
california trying to bring an end to a standoff between 60 well-entrenched modoc warriors and their families and nearly 400 soldiers, 60 warriors had been holding off 400 soldiers for approximately four months in the lava beds of northern california. the modocs had legitimate grievances, the white ranchers of or gone unwillingly abetted by the army had driven the modocs from the small parcel of land they claimed as their own. men died on both sides. in the interest of further bloodshed, peace was agreed, even though an interpreter, who was a modoc woman herself and happened to be jack's cousin, begged the general not to --
have warned him that treachery was afoot. on good friday, 1873, the general, his modoc interpreter and her husband, and two frightened peace commissioners, met captain jack and modoc leaders at a peace tent between lines. the general handed out cigars and said "my modoc friends, my heart feels good today." those were his last words. moments later, captain jack blew the general's face off with a revolver. there is his cross in the lava beds. he was the only general officer to die in the indian wars. now, what are we to conclude from these episodes? from crook's comments to the
press, from pope's principle stand? well, the essential truths that apply to the indians deeply disturbed most senior officers in the army, even sheridan expressed regret at his duty at times. also, more often than not, senior officers in the military sympathized with the hostile indians they were charged with subduing. ok, so much for myth number one, but what about government policy? we can debate the wisdom and morality ad nauseam, but it cannot in any way shape or form be said that the government ever intended to physically exterminate the indians.
myth number two bank, government indian policy was exterminationist. this happens to be a delegate of indian chiefs visiting president lincoln, and in the corner here is mary todd lincoln. government indian policy was not in any way shape or form exterminationist. rather the government response to what was commonly called the indian problem was inconsistent. massacres did occur, and they do appear in my book unvarnished, and treaties were broken regularly, the government never contemplated genocide, despite what you may read in some books
or see and some tv specials on the west. now, the indian way of life must be a eradicated if the indians were to survive was taken for granted, however. culpable genocide, so to speak, was taken for granted. physical genocide, was never contemplated. federal indian policy actually evolved in fits and starts in the years after the civil war. when the war ended, indian policy was in complete tatters. you can imagine that all the attention had been occupied with the confederacy. neither the president or congress was able to fashion coherent indian policy, which kept things as william t sherman put it -- to caprice and the hazard.
another problem that compounded the difficulties was rampant corruption in the indian bureau. here is a cartoon from the time portraying the corruption in the indian bureau. there was a popular story of the time that was told of a chief who described his indian agent and a conversation with general sherman in these terms. he said, "chief, great man -- excuse me, agent, great man. when he comes, he brings two bags. when he goes, it takes a steamboat to carry away his things." in 1869, ulysses s. grant declared to the nation "let us have peace", speaking about the reconstruction south in the indians in the west. grant instituted a carrot and stick policy that came to be
known as the peace policy. again, here making fun of the policy. grant was serious in this respect. he replaced indian natives with religious men, especially quakers, and officers. he established independent oversight of the indian bureau, and appointed as commission of indian affairs, a full-blooded indian. this was not a panacea to indians because parker subscribed to the prevailing view that the indians future, only future, late in acculturation. parker acting on instructions from grant directed indian agents to do the following, "assemble the indians and their jurisdiction on permanent
reservations that were well removed from white overland travel routes in the west and from white supplements, and then once they were assembled, to get them started on the road to christianization and civilization, and above all to treat them with kindness and patience. indians who refused to settle on the reservation would be turned over to military control and treated as open and friendly or hostile as circumstances might justify." although kindness and patience, not to mention common decency, were often lacking in and limitations of grant's policy, the principles that parker articulated in 1869 officially guided federal policy throughout most of the indian wars era, most of the three decades of the indian wars. despite these laudable
principles, the end result however was to dispossess the indians of their lands. as an old lakota chief said of the government after the indian wars were over, he said "they made us many promises, more than i can remember, but they never kept them, except one, they promised to take our land, and they took it." a question naturally arises, how to the indians respond to the broken promises and the relentless white encroachment on their lands? that brings us to the third and final enduring myth i want to dispel today. the myth that the indians united against the whites, that there was a unified against encroachment.
the indians would take ledger books that they had found, and they would draw scenes of combat on the books, and more often than not it was indians fighting indians. here we see a cheyenne warrior sticking his lance into a pawnee warrior. they also continued to make war on one another throughout these three decades of the indian wars with the whites. the problem was that intertribal warfare was simply too deeply ingrained in their cultures for them to act otherwise.
there was no sense of what i call "indianness" until it was too late. during the course of the war, a man happened to ask a cheyenne chief why they prayed on their crow neighbors. the chief replied, "we stole the hunting grounds of the crows because they were the best. we wanted more room." or, as a lakota chief told a tree negotiator, "you have split my land and i do not like it, those lands once belonged to the iowa and the crows, but we whipped them. we did what the white man did to the indians." one thing that is even more frequently lost in the midst of
these indian wars then the question of the united resistance and intertribal conflict are the numerous tribes that actually accepted the white presence. for those of you like myself who have read "bury my heart at wounded knee," when he speaks of the pawnee or crow, he speaks of them as mercenaries. because they happened to side with the government in the westward march of whites.
they were essentially adopting the adage that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. the pawnee of nebraska were vitally important to the construction of the transcontinental railroad,. i don't know if any of you have watched "hell on wheels" but the pawnee don't get the credit on that show or anywhere else. cheyenne raids had brought work on the union pacific line virtually to a halt. the army was incapable of catching these fast-moving, rating -- raiding bands of indians. a battalion of pawnee warriors were recruited as regular soldiers.
here is the battalion of two companies, a marvelous painting. the pawnee battalion mold a cheyenne war party so badly that raids on the railroad virtually stopped. i personally, from work on my book, think it is fair to say that the action of the pawnee battalion shaved at least a year or more of the construction of the transcontinental railroad. like the chinese workers who did so much work on the central pacific railroad, the pawnee have been lost to history.
as distractive as the fighting between tribes was, the intertribal fighting, what i think ultimately doomed the indian resistance was the end of the -- inability of individual tribes to maintain cohesion against the white threat. the only tribes that were united during this. were the tribes that accepted the white presence, crow, pawnee. none of the tribes that were famous for fighting the government, the lakota, the apache, none of them were ever unified for war or peace. each had its war and peace factions that struggled for dominance within the tribe and they clashed sometimes violently with one another.
these peace factions were obviously a potent fit column for the government -- fifth column for the government and army. the kyowa offer a particularly poignant example of a tribe toward asunder over a question of making war or peace with white men. in the winter of 1866, the head chief died. there were two contenders for his position, kicking bird was one. he was just 32 years old. he advocated peaceful accommodation with whites. satanta was nearly 50, he was something of a lost ring braggart -- blustering braggart and was famous for being a
killer and -- he was the ultimate b.s. artist. he was austin and often painted his teepee, his body, his wife and his horse the sacred color of red. they vied for power. santanta participated in nearly every rate against the army. he was incarcerated for having broken prison parole in what was called the red river war. kicking bird almost single-handedly kept most of the
kyowa people out of the red river war, the great struggle for the southern plains. nevertheless, the army chose kicking bird -- into selecting a quarter of kyowa to be imprisoned in florida for supposedly being instigators in the war. kicking bird faced an obvious dilemma. the kyowa were not responsible for instigating the war. secondly, to pick out members for your own tribe for incarceration was difficult, to say the least. he chose mostly mexican captives and tribal delinquents. he also selected a vicious chief who was second only to santanta as a war leader. kicking bird had complicity in selecting members of his tribe,
and it cost him his life. as he saw the prisoners off with words of affection and promises that their imprisonment would be brief, he was hexed. "you think you are free, a big man with the whites, but you will not live long." the next day, kicking bird died after drinking a cup of coffee. the person who treated him said that he had been poisoned with strychnine. "i have taken the white man's road, and i am not sorry. tell my people to take the good path." in the unending hatred between
whites and indians, kicking bird had foreseen the apocalypse. he told a quaker friend, i fear blood must flow and my heart is sad. the white man is strong, but he cannot destroy us all in one year. it may take him to or three or four years. and then the world will turn to water or burn up. it is our mother and cannot live when all of the indians are dead. let us close the kicking bird's words and review our myths. that the army was hell-bent on killing indians, that the government indian policy was extermination list and that the indians united against the whites feared i hope i have shot some arrows into the mix of the
-- myths of the indian wars. i would be happy to take questions pertaining to the indian wars. [applause] >> the adobe walls, i was under the impression it was a short encounter. it sounds like there was a rescue and [indiscernible] how long did that encounter last? >> the question was, how long did the encounter at buffalo walls take, the impression being
that the encounter was brief. the actual battle, the charge on adobe walls was short in duration. the indian leader was shot, and the medicine man who promised that his medicine -- not a choice name, he promised his medicine would render the indians bulletproof. after some of the indians had fallen, one of the buffalo hunters who had a rifle with the scope took aim at a gathering of indians on that ridge i was talking about at least half a mile away and fired a shot that hit his horse in the forehead and killed it and that
effectively broke his medicine and the attacks ended. but the indians laid siege for the next three or four days. they were there. by the time general hope -- pope assigned troops to go to the scene, the indians had left. >> was there ever an exchange between littlefield sheraton and president grant about genocide? >> about genocide? not genocide per se, but the question was, was there ever a question -- conversation between sheraton and grant about genocide. not as such, not in the larger sense.
i thank you for the question because this is free advertising for an article i have coming out in next month's smithsonian magazine. this is something that grants biographers have chosen to neglect. president grant had failed to buy the black hills, they had refused to sell, not because the black hills were sacred but because the price the government was offering was not enough. present grant got together a small cabal of like-minded officers and officials to plot a means of provoking more against the lakota, who were living off the reservation, but on land that had been promised to them in perpetuity. it was a secret cabal, and if
the army defeated the indians who were off the reservations, sitting bull's people and crazy horses people, that would convince them to sell the black hills. cabal was secret at the time and remained secret for a long time. it was not genocide, per se, but it provoked a conflict of that magnitude against the indians and it was that provocation by grant, sheraton and others that led to the great sioux war and little bighorn. in a matter of speaking, not genocide, but they talked about how to instigate the war. >> what was the role in the press -- of the press in the indian wars? what did the white americans of
the east know what was going on? was there a general sentiment among editorialists in the east about pursuing these policies? >> the indian wars were extremely well covered by the press. the papers from "the new york times" to the "chicago tribune." even the modoc war. henry morton stanley, he cut his teeth as a reporter for the indian wars and became drinking buddies with santanta. the press in the east, generally speaking, was in favor of a piece policy approach, a humane
policy. the western press, on the other hand, was more for genocide and extermination. fortunately, both the eastern and western press send correspondence to the field and they covered not just major but also minor campaigns. newspaper accounts are invaluable sources for the indian wars. they were well covered and generally pretty accurately covered. the spin in the east was much different than the west. >> can you hear me? so with unity and americans in mind, what your thoughts on the 21st century indian wars and the
issues and standing rock right now? >> what are my thoughts on the issues of standing rock right now, and i'm going to claim a historians ignorance. i am sincerely not a student of present-day indian issues. i don't feel really competent to comment on the, to be entirely candid. >> is a plausible that these myths were perpetrated by the government's commitment to expansion and two totally different cultures recently did not understand each other? >> i'm not sure i understand your question. >> the three myths you talked
about, could they not have been fostered -- our government was committed to expansion of the country. >> the question was, were the three mess i talked about fostered because the government was completely committed to conquering the west, conquering all the land in the united states? no, i don't think so, i think they developed independently of government policy. i don't think the government ever sought to perpetuate any of these takes on what was happening in the west, to the contrary. congress held hearings frequently never there was a major event in the west, be it the attack on black cattle, the sand creek massacre, any major
event, congress held hearings. in some instances they invited indian chiefs to come to washington and testify and share their side of the story. no, the government was not responsible for propagandizing in creating these myths, i don't believe. >> time for two more questions. >> i'm not trying to exculpate the government, but i don't think they created the myths. >> what was the role of art in publicizing these wars? >> the question is, what was the role of art of creating the public perception of the indian wars? at the time, artists like frederick remington, charles russell, i forget his name, a
german artist, and others who portrayed the horse -- the wars invariably, portrayed it to the lens of the united states military. i don't think i have any of the pictures up here, but the artwork of the time, into the early 20th century, invariably it was the gallant calvary slaying the indians. i think that played a great part in shaping public attitude during the indian wars and during the immediate afterwords, -- aftermath, as did a series of films by a man who went on to write many novels about the indian wars who continued to paint the soldiers as white knights.
the earliest films, most of which are lost to us now, the earliest silent films, sicily to demille and others, were sympathetic to the indians, oddly enough. that did not last long. by the 1920's into the 1930's, cinema portrayed the indians as one-dimensional, cardboard cutouts, opponents of the white settlers. >> what was the answer to your question about custer? in your opinion, was he the characterization that little bit man has, the vein, ill-prepared,
vain,tle big man has, the ill-prepared, foolish man? >> there is the $64,000 question. what is my answer to question, was custer a reckless, vainglorious glory seeker? when i started my research, i was inclined to that view, i always tried to allow my research to guide my conclusions about historical figures. i came away from the book with a good deal more regard for custer. he was in many ways a boy who never grew up, a boy who craved action, who could not live without action. he was also very complex. he once said that if he were an indian, he would behave exactly as the warriors -- the lakota
warrior stood, and he often wished he were a warrior. he craved glory, he loved to see his name on the front page of eastern newspapers, but he was not a full, he was not full hardy.as not fool he was acting on the best intelligence of the united states army at that time, and to the best army scouts. they reckoned that the indians, i forget exactly how many, maybe 500 indian warriors had gathered together in one village loosely under sitting bull's leadership. the trouble was, there had been terrible accretion of indians from reservations that were streaming into sitting bull's village for one last taste of the free way of life.
to hunt buffalo one last time and fight for their way of life if necessary. unfortunately, the army was unaware of this, and in today's -- the days that transpired between when custer left for little bighorn and reached the crucial moment of whether or not descend into the valley and attacked the village, the village had grown from some 500 warriors to at least 1500. he had no knowledge of this, he was acting on the best intelligence he had. he had orders from the general, to find an attack of the indians, use discretion, but to attack them. after custer was wiped out, the general change the narrative. sheraton and grant both endorsed the lie.
so custer was operating with the best intelligence he had, that the indian strength was less than his regiment, and also that the indian village of attack would break up and run, which it always been the case. the trouble was, -- and he actually did not want to attack on june 25, he wanted to wait and assemble his entire regiment, rest them overnight and then attack, and whether he would it divided his command to next day, who knows? but there were some cheyenne discovered on the back trail rifling through rations that had fallen off a mule, when he heard that, he thought, we have been discovered and we have to attack
long story short, he acted according to the best intelligence he had, according to the discretionary orders he and knowing that if the indians were aware of him, they would scatter, they would disperse. i think the only thing for which he can be faulted is splitting his command. i think that was a mistake. but again, that is hindsight. do i think he was a full, no -- fool, no. >> thank you. [applause] >> well done. again, it will be signing copies of his book upstairs, so please join us and thank you all for attending this evening.
[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] are watching american history tv, 48 hours of programming every weekend on c-span 3. follow us on twitter to keep up with the latest history news. ♪ up with my idea of reproductive rights i went and researched. recent events i heard about, i knew i could find information on that and that would help me figure out what points i wanted to say about it and how to form my outline for my taste. >> i do not think i took a very methodical approach to this process. you could've a few want it, but i think that really with a piece as dense as this it is the
process of reworking and reworking. come up withng to what my theme was, i was doing research at the same time and coming up with more ideas for what i could film. an idea, thatth would be a great shot. i would think about that and that would give me a new idea for something else to focus on so i would do research about that. the whole process was about building on other things and scratching what does not work and you keep going till you finally get what is the finished product. >> this year's theme -- your message to washington, d.c. us, what is the most urgent issue for the new president to address in 2017? our competition is open to all middle school and high school students grades six to 12 with $100,000 awarded in cash prizes. students can work alone or in groups of three to produce a 5-7 minute documentary. include c-span programming and explore opposing opinions. the $100,000 in cash prizes will be shared between 150 students
and 53 teachers. the grand prize of $5,000 will go to the student or team with ry. best overall ent this year's deadline is january 20, 2017. mark your calendars and spread the word to student film workers. for some >> each week leading up to the 2016 election, road to the white house rewind brings you archival coverage of presidential races. next, the third of four debates between incumbent vice president richard nixon and massachusetts senator, john f. kennedy. the candidates were in separate studios with nixon in los angeles and kennedy in new york city. topics included checking the expansion of chinese communism, federal spending, u.s. economic growth versus that of the soviet union and civility in local discourse. senator kennedy defeated vice president nixon and a close general election by less than 1% of the pop