“1875, the Civil war had been
over for a decade and once again we were one nation with one
capital and peace…But it wasn’t that simple. There was another
nation to be reckoned with, a nation with a heritage older than
our own. The blue and the grey had learned to live together;
but the red and the white had not.”
Newspaper article: “President
Grant Makes Western Trip to Address Graduating Class.”
Jason was riding along the road
one day when he saw a train coming. He turned his horse and
raced toward the train.
On the train was President
Grant. He was reading a newspaper, and was NOT happy about the
article. Apparently it was criticizing their Indian affairs.
The man was not authorized to give reports on the conduct of his
A soldier opened the door to
announce “The man you are expecting is here.”
Grant greeted Jason warmly as
always. He introduced Jason to General Sheridan. “Well now
McCord, I like the way you handled that Mexican situation for
me.” Jason thanked him. “I told General Sheridan here about
it. This affair is a little closer to home for all of us. When
you were at West Point, you had a lot to do with the cadet just
a year behind you. Armstrong Custer.”
“Yes sir. I was assigned to
coach him for his entrance exams,” Jason explained. “We got to
be good friends. I haven’t seen him since…since I left the
Grant pointed at the paper.
“Those articles there mean one of two things: Either Custer has
an honest gripe, or he’s taking pot shots at me and my
administration for personal reasons.” Jason wondered why he
would do that. “This is an election year, McCord.” Grant
reminded him that Custer was the youngest general ever to be in
the army. “Now he’s thirty-five years old…just old enough to be
the youngest president in the history of this country.”
Jason didn’t understand the
problem. They knew Custer earned his stars honestly. If he had
political ambitions…”I wouldn’t care if he had,” Grant
declared. “I think somebody else has ambitions for him.” Phil
explained that someone’s apparently put a “bug” in Custer’s head
that he’s outgrown plain soldiering.
“He listens to the flattery of
his associates instead of the flattery of the Indians,” Grant
declared then. “He’s antagonized most of the red-skin leaders
in the territory. Right now, the Indian Treaty of ’68 is about
to blow sky high, and I think Custer’s the fuse.”
“Where do I come in, sir?” Jason
“I want you to go to Fort
Lincoln. Renew your old friendship. Find out what’s stewing in
his head. See if he can still be depended on as a soldier and a
“You mean spy on him,” Jason
“It’s either that or take General
Sheridan’s suggestion…Send two thousand troopers into Dakota
Territory.” Sheridan declared that the killings have to be
“If you think Custer’s provoking
the Indians, why don’t you transfer him?” Jason questioned then.
“Because even with his stubborn
and unreasonable streaks, he’s still the best field commander in
the Calvary. That’s where he belongs. If somebody has turned
that egotistical head of his…maybe somebody he trusts…will turn
Jason’s face turned cold as he
stared at President Grant. Finally, he spoke. “I’m sorry,
Sir. I can’t do that.” Grant said nothing as he silently
puffed on his cigar.
Just then, a band could be
heard. Jason and Grant went to look out the train window.
“Wait thirty minutes and you’ll change your mind,” Grant said.
Custer and his Calvary were on
Jason stayed while General
Sheridan, President Grant and Custer talked. “What’s wrong with
the savages? If we send in two thousand more men, it’s going to
look like we’re so scared we’re shaking in our boots!” General
Sheridan told him that according to the estimate, there were
already three-hundred strong patrolling the area. “The point is
they’re from different tribes.” Custer named some of the
tribes. “They never fought together and they never will.
They’re too proud to combine.”
“Suppose they find a common
leader who can combine them,” General Sheridan asked. Custer
said it wasn’t likely. “What about Sitting Bull? They say he’s
Custer snickered. “A
prophet…Well, you just remember what the Bible says about
prophets, Phil. They’re always without honor in their own
land.” Custer told Sheridan to keep his men. “These dog eaters
need a lesson, and we’re just the ones to give it to them.”
“Maybe they need a example more
than a lesson, General,” President Grant pointed out. “Maybe
you’re not providing it.”
“Mr. President, you sound like
we’re talking about children. These are survivors of the stone
age, they’re salvages. They’re twenty thousand years behind our
“Is that any reason for us to act
like savages?” President Grant asked.
Custer explained some of their
customs, as if Grant was aware of them already. The Sioux
chopped off heads, another tribe cut off and collects human
limbs,…Custer was bitter…very bitter. He said there was nothing
on this earth that could keep him on a reservation if he were a
Sioux warrior. “But if our policy is to put them on a
reservation, let’s keep them there; and if we can’t keep them
there, then let’s get rid of them!”
Grant had heard quite enough. He
assured General Custer he’d review h is report. General
Sheridan would be there to visit him soon. General Custer
saluted the President, then General Sheridan walked him out.
Jason came out of hiding. He had
a confused look on his face. “Well, McCord?”
“Yes sir, I’ll do it,” Jason
Out on the land, a woman was in
trouble. A wheel had fallen off her buggy and there was no one
to help her. Then an Indian rode up and without saying a word
got off his horse and walked over to the wagon. He motioned to
her that he would lift the wagon so she could slip the wheel
back on. She nodded, understanding.
But before they could do their
agreed task, someone rode up on a horse. The man’s name was Mr.
Yates. The woman greeted him, but he didn’t say a word. He
turned and gave the Indian a hard smack. The Indian fell to the
ground. Yates kicked him in the face. “Mr. Yates, he just
stopped to help me!” Jennie Galvin cried.
“Don’t let him fool you, Miss
Galvin,” Yates declared as he smacked the Indian again. “If I
hadn’t happened along, you’d be dead right now!” He smacked the
Jason rode up to see Yates
smacking the Indian. “Please stop it!” Galvin was crying. She
begged for Yates to stop. Jason jumped off his horse and
attacked Yates. They fought while the lady and Indian watched.
Jason won. Yates grasped his saddle horn and took some deep
Jason walked up behind him. “Get
on your horse and get out of here.” Yates did as he was told.
Jason helped the Indian up while Galvin apologized to him for
what Yates had done. The Indian nodded at her. They saw three
other Indians sitting on top of a hill. She thanked Jason,
explaining what had happened. She figured Yates had been
fighting Indians so long that he didn’t know how to behave any
“You know him?” Jason asked.
“Oh yes…He’s one of General
Custer’s scouts.” She watched the Indian boy ride up to the
three Indians, then turned. “Are you going to Fort Lincoln?”
Jason told her he was, and she was happy. Her father was the
Indian agent there. They introduced themselves, then Jason went
to fix her wagon.
General Custer was talking to
someone who was in agreement with his policy. A knock sounded
on the door, and boy was Custer surprised to find Jason there.
He sure was happy to see good ol’ Jas! Custer immediately
introduced Jason to Lionel MacAllister. Custer’s wife, Libby,
was very happy to see Jason as well. She gave him a great big
bear hug! McAllister said he had to get – had important
business to tend to. Jason followed Custer further into the
house. He passed a sign that read, “George Armstrong Custer for
Custer noticed his face and asked
him if he’d fallen off of his horse. “I met one of your
Scouts…Yates?” Custer wondered what it was about. Jason told
him Yates was beating up an Indian boy about half his size.
Custer didn’t sympathize. He thought it was good that Yates did
“What are you doing in this part
of the country?” Custer asked, quickly changing the subject.
Jason told him he was going to
hire out to do a geological survey for gold in the black hills.
“I hear you’re keeping prospectors out of there.” Custer
assured him it was the government keeping him out. He was just
following orders. “You were never very good at that. “
Custer chuckled. “Yeah, I guess
I wasn’t, was I?” Jason told him he was looking for a job.
“Well, I have an idea how we can kill two birds with one stone.
We can tie a tin can on Yates and get a good scalp to go along
with it.” Jason wondered what the men would thing. Custer
assured him it was his Calvary, to run it out he wanted to.
Jason agreed to take the job.
They could meet for lunch at six o’clock at the officer’s
tavern. “I’m not an officer,” Jason reminded him.
“That’s alright. I’m not a
Jennie Galvin was in the tavern
talking to some officers. She told them
she’d like to go to the
picnic on Sunday, but her father may have other plans for her.
One of the officers declared everyone deserved one day of rest.
Upon spotting Jason, she smiled and greeted him warmly, offering
him something to drink while he waited for General Custer to
In the back room, Yates was
meeting with Mr. Hazin and Mr. Galvin. Galvin wasn’t so sure he
wanted in on “the deal.” “You’re making plenty short changing
those Indians,” Hazin reminded him. “How many Indian agents
save over $3000 on a $1500 a year salary?” Hazin was tired of
Galvin’s whining, and he had ordered Galvin not to talk to him
about this in public. “You will go when I tell you to.”
Hazin gave Galvin an order. He
told Galvin to cut the Indian’s rations down to half when they
came around for their supplies next time. “The hungrier they
get…the sooner they’ll break that treaty.”
“What do you want me to tell
them?” Galvin asked in horror.
“Tell them to take it up with
their Great, White father!
Now, leave us alone!”
The business man,
campaign manager, in the room wanted to know what Yates was
doing there. “Feeling sorry for himself. Custer just fired
him,” Hazlin replied.
Custer’s campaign manager
declared, “I can make him president. I put two governors in
office, and a handful of senators. He listens to me.”
“I don’t care if you make him
King of Romania,” Hazlin declared. “Just make sure he leads the
charge in the Sioux territory and violates that treaty. And
I’ll be right behind him to stake my claim on all that gold
those devils are sitting on!”
Two soldiers in the saloon had
been trying to figure out who Jason was all night. They finally
placed him as the coward of Bitter Creek. “I wonder who let him
in here!” The soldiers were upset.
“I don’t know,”
the other soldier
stated. “But I know who’s gonna show him out.”
Lieutenant Briggs walked up to
Jason and Jennie. She stood to her feet to introduce Briggs to
Jason. Jason reached out a hand to shake Briggs’, but Briggs
ignored it. “Yeah, I know who it is. You know, you didn’t
listen to the terms of your court martial very well, MISTER
McCord.” Lieutenant Briggs smiled. “This room is for army
“He’s a guest,” Jennie argued.
“Walk out,” the Lieutenant
warned. “Or you’ll get thrown out.”
“You’re making a mistake,
Lieutenant,” Jason warned in an even voice. Lieutenant put his
hand on Jason’s shoulder. “Let go,” Jason warned. But he told
Jason to ‘come on.’ Jason shook Briggs’ hand off his shoulder
in a stern, angry warning. Then Jason sat back down at the
table and went back to his drink.
Suddenly, the Lieutenant threw
whisky in Jason’s face. Jason got angry. He jumped up and
punched the Lieutenant. A fight broke out among Jason and the
two Lieutenants as the two watched on. The fight abruptly ended
when Custer walked in.
ATTENTION!” Custer demanded of
his soldiers. They all quickly stood at attention. “As you
Custer walked up to Jason. He
looked over his soldiers one more time before making his
announcement. “Gentlemen, I wish to introduce you to your new
Chief scout, Mr. McCord.” Custer walked up to Briggs. “Mr.
Briggs, since you were so quick to welcome to Mr. McCord, I
would like you to extend your courtesy and give him an
“But sir, I…”
inspection tomorrow.” Lieutenant Briggs knew he had no choice.
Custer toasted Jason. “Welcome
to the seventh, Jas,” Custer said as the Seventh Calvary
March started playing. Then Custer sang:
We are the pride of the army,
And a regiment of great renown,
Our name's on the pages of history,
From sixty-six on down.
The officers joined in:
We are the pride of the army,
And a regiment of great renown,
Our name's on the pages of history,
From sixty-six on down.
We’ll break windows, we’ll break doors...
They continued singing as
the men plotting against him
listened. “Listen...” Hazin said quietly. “We’ve got Custer
primed, and I don’t want ANYBODY wetting that fuse.”
“Don’t worry,” MacAllister declared. “I’ll take care of
“And I’ll take care of McCord,” Yates declared.
Jason sat by and watched Custer. He and his men certainly were