I thought I would just copy and paste that incident, from Brown's site. Here is the extract from Thompson's account, Brown's commentary in red, Pvt Peter Thompson's words in blue:Here is the whole story for the first time, including Medal of Honor winner Peter Thompson's account of apparently catching George A. Custer and Curley mid-rape on the first flat upriver from the ford at Medicine Tail Coulee minutes before Custer's delayed attack there.
We had not gone far, before we saw a sight that puzzled us very much. Coming out of the river was one of our Crow scouts, mounted on his horse with the end of a rawhide rope over his shoulder, which he held firmly in his right hand. At the other end of the rope, straining and tugging to get away, was a Sioux squaw. The rope was tied around both her hands, but, struggle as she might, she could not break away.
While looking on and wondering where the Crow was going we were further astonished by seeing General Custer dash out of the fording place and ride rapidly up to the Crow and commence to talk to him. Custer was well versed in several Indian languages. The conversation with the Indian did not last long, and what the nature of it was I do not know, but the Crow released the Sioux woman, and she seemed glad to be free came running towards us in a half stooping posture and in her hand was a long bladed knife of ugly dimensions. So fierce did she look that my hand involuntarily sought the handle of my revolver. She must have noticed the movement for she made a short circle around us, ran over the bank, crossed the river, and disappeared in the village.
The Crow then left Custer and rode in a jog trot towards the river and disappeared. [Note: Custer apparently didn't like the looks of the ford at Medicine Tail Coulee (it required his men to cross four abreast) and so he quickly rode off for a quick "scout" while his men dismounted on the river bank, as White Shield and and Goes Ahead witnessed. After meeting Thompson and the Crow scout with the roped enemy squaw on the banks of the Little Bighorn -- and finding no better alternative crossing places -- the eye-witness record says Custer then returned to the ford at Medicine Tail Coulee in this scenario, tried to cross there, got shot by White Cow Bull, and died "in the water of the Little Bighorn." Or at least that's one plausible way to read the eye-witness record of the battle. However, there's also another, equally plausible but much, much darker read on the scene with Custer and the roped squaw, namely that Curley was Custer's procurer and they were both there to rape and murder the Sioux woman. See Who Killed Custer -- Part 11 "War Crime Time" for more info.]Custer was mounted on his sorrel horse and it being a very hot day he was in his shirt sleeves; his buckskin pants tucked into his boots; his buckskin shirt fastened to the rear of his saddle; and a broad brimmed cream colored hat on his head, the brim of which was turned up on the right side and fastened by a small hook and eye to its crown. This gave him opportunity to sight his rifle while riding. His rifle lay horizontally in front of him; when riding he leaned slightly forward. This was the appearance of Custer on the day that he entered his last battle, and just one half hour before the fight commenced between him and the Sioux. When the Crow scout left him, he wheeled around and made for the same point in the river where we had first seen him. When he was passing us he slightly checked his horse and waved his right hand twice for us to follow him. He pointed down the stream, put spurs to his horse and disappeared at the ford, never uttering a word. That was the last I ever saw of Custer alive. He must have gone thence directly to his command. We wondered why none of his staff were with him. In all probability he had outrun them. His being alone shows with what fearlessness he travelled about even in an enemy's country with hostiles all around him.
posting an extract under the Fair Use clause, a portion of the article for discussion and educational purposes only. Thompson's account is long out of copyright, just difficult to locate the original.
Now Bruce Brown has inserted his commentary into Peter Thompson's account, which I have changed the color of his words so that you can see what the original text was. This was one of the more glaring examples of Brown's inserting that could be misleading to the reader who might not notice where the Thompson account ends and editor remarks begin. this is not the worst example, at least he put his comment/notes in brackets and said "note". Anyway it is a curious incident, one out of a number of queer moments, which not one of the Crows ever admitted to. However the fact that three of the Crows changed their stories in a marked way over the years, lends weight to the credence of this story. One more point on Bruce Brown's inserted notes to this portion of the Thompson account, he has clearly mis-identified what ford the incident occurred at, Medicine Tail ford is right next to the Custer battlefield at the lower end of the village, the incident clearly happened a half hour earlier and at the Reno ford, not Medicine Tail. While that may seem to clear things up, it actually just raises yet another question - why was Custer away from his battalions at that particular moment? Had he ridden back to look for the rest of the command, or to get his scouts, or,...?
Alternatively, if Brown has the right ford (Medicine Tail or Minneconjou) this raises multiple issues; for the incident occurred a half hour before the firing started in the Custer battle (not counting the Reno fight in the valley) and Thompson's horse must have played out practically AT the ford, so it should not have taken him so long to hike the rest of the way to rejoin Custer, and what were the five companies doing for that half hour with no firing, grazing their horses? I don't believe Brown has the right ford and may be bending the facts to fit his own theories a bit here.
I try not to judge the players of this drama, some is inevitable as human beings with our own ideas of right and wrong but you are right the times were quite different then. There were plenty of people who thought the best thing to do would be to wipe the plains Indians out man, woman and child in Custer's day and the Indians themselves were hardly a "civilized" enemy with plenty of brutal acts on their own part. As I mentioned before about Reno, I can't help but feel a bit sorry for him - even though militarily his behavior was less than sterling, maybe even punishable if all the facts had been brought forward but clearly he had become frightened or even unhinged, frightened while still charging down the valley into ordering a halt to the charge and form skirmish line, unhinged at that moment he had just asked Bloody Knife what the scouts were doing only to have brains splattered in his face. I can't honestly say that I would have done any better, and to have his own subordinate officers calling him a liar both under their breath and to his face could not but have pained him especially if he thought they were at least partly right. Nothing like rubbing salt in an open wound. The only sympathy I have for Custer lies in how history has been treating him, I think if he could choose his own death that he got exactly what he would have wished. As a commander his record is nothing like what he has been painted in recent decades, actually pretty impressive even as an Indian fighter where little glory or honor could be hoped for. I don't believe Custer was trying to rape a captured Sioux woman in the middle of a large battle, the very idea seems just a bit ridiculous to me.
Sorry for the long-winded post, thank you in advance for the book and for the very interesting replies and suggestions for more information, it has been very helpful to me. I hope that sometime I can repay you Joe and Pip. I look forward to your posts, and as always there is never any hurry. I hope you all have a very pleasant evening or day, depending on what time you may read this.