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Digging Into Custer's Last Stand

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By Sandy Barnard

In 1983, a prairie fire burned across the tinder-dry prairie of then-Custer Battlefield National Monument in southeastern Montana where Lakota and Cheyenne had overwhelmed the command of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and his 7th Cavalry Regiment more than a century earlier. When the ground cooled. the grass, sagebrush, prickly pear cactus and other vegetation had been striped away, exposing some historical artifacts on the surface.

An immediate preliminary archeological survey by Richard Fox demonstrated that more thought exploration was warranted and led to the dig of 1984 and 1985. Thousands of artifacts as well as partial remains of soldiers victims of the fight were recovered and studied in the lab. The dig revealed much new information about the combat of 1876 and has led to exciting interpretation as well as continued debate about the storied engagement of the Great Sioux War of 1876

In 1986, the first edition of Digging Into Custer's Last Stand was published. Four years later, after the 1989 archeological project at Custer Battlefield and other work at two other sites associated with Custer's life -and his house at Fort Abraham Lincoln near Mandan, North Dakota -the book, Shovels & Speculation, Archeologists Hunt Custer, picked up the story of the Custer-related digs. 

This third edition of Digging incluces all the material covered in its earlier editions, and offers a summary of the history behind the new Indian Memorial at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument as well as a review of the dedication ceremonies held in June 2004 for that memorial and the Horse Cemetery Marker.

For anyone interested in the age-old historical debate about this battle and the exciting theories that have emerged since the digs began, this new edition is a must.
202 pages. Softcover. 151 photos/maps

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