Garland, McClure’s Magazine, September 1898
with Two Moon
we topped the low, pine-clad ridge and looked into the hot,
dry valley, Wolf Voice, my Cheyenne interpreter, pointed
at a little log cabin, toward the green line of alders wherein
the Rosebud ran, and said:
we drew near we came to a puzzling fork in the road. The
left branch skirted a corner of a wire fence, the right
turned into a field. We started to the left, but the waving
of a blanket in the hands of a man at the cabin door directed
us to the right. As we drew nearer we perceived Two Moon
spreading blankets in the scant shade of his low cabin.
Some young Cheyennes were grinding a sickle. A couple of
children were playing about the little log stables. The
barn-yard and buildings were like those of a white settler
on the new and arid sod. It was all barren and unlovely—the
home of poverty.
we dismounted at the door Two Moon came out to meet us with
hand outstretched. 'How?' he said, with the heartiest, long-drawn
note of welcome. He motioned us to be seated on the blankets
which he had spread for us upon seeing our approach. Nothing
could exceed the dignity and sincerity of his greeting.
we took seats he brought out tobacco and a pipe. He was
a tall old man, of a fine, clear brown complexion, big-chested,
erect, and martial of bearing. His smiling face was broadly
benignant, and his manners were courteous and manly.
he cut his tobacco Wolf Voice interpreted my wishes to him.
I said, 'Two Moon, I have come to hear your story of the
Custer battle, for they tell me you were a chief there.
After you tell me the story, I want to take some photographs
of you. I want you to signal with a blanket as the great
chiefs used to do in fight.'
Voice made this known to him, delivering also a message
from the agents, and at every pause Two Moon uttered deep-voiced
notes of comprehension. 'Ai,’ 'A-ah,’ 'Hoh,’—these sounds
are commonly called 'grunts,’ but they were low, long-drawn
expulsions of breath, very expressive.
a long silence intervened. The old man mused. It required
time to go from the silence of the hot valley, the shadow
of his little cabin, and the wire fence of his pasture,
back to the days of his youth. When he began to speak, it
was with great deliberation. His face became each moment
graver and his eyes more introspective.
Moon does not like to talk about the days of fighting; but
since you are to make a book, and the agent says you are
a friend to [naturalist and writer George Bird] Grinnell,
I will tell you about it—the truth. It is now a long time
ago, and my words do not come quickly.
spring  I was camped on Powder River with fifty lodges
of my people—Cheyennes. The place is near what is now Fort
McKenney. One morning soldiers charged my camp. They were
in command of Three Fingers [Colonel Ranald Slidell MacKenzie].
We were surprised and scattered, leaving our ponies. The
soldiers ran all our horses off. That night the soldiers
slept, leaving the horses one side; so we crept up and stole
them back again, and then we went away.
traveled far, and one day we met a big camp of Sioux at
Charcoal Butte. We camped with the Sioux, and had a good
time, plenty grass, plenty game, good water. Crazy Horse
was head chief of the camp. Sitting Bull [another leader
of the Sioux] was camped a little ways below, on the Little
Horse said to me, 'I'm glad you are come. We are going to
fight the white man again.'
camp was already full of wounded men, women, and children.
said to Crazy Horse, 'All right. I am ready to fight. I
have fought already. My people have been killed, my horses
stolen; I am satisfied to fight.''
the old man paused a moment, and his face took on a lofty
and somber expression.
believed at that time the Great Spirits had made Sioux,
put them there,'—he drew a circle to the right—'and white
men and Cheyennes here,'—indicating two places to the left—'expecting
them to fight. The Great Spirits I thought liked to see
the fight; it was to them all the same like playing. So
I thought then about fighting.' As he said this, he made
me feel for one moment the power of a sardonic god whose
drama was the wars of men.
May, when the grass was tall and the horses strong, we broke
camp and started across the country to the mouth of the
Tongue River. Then Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse and all
went up the Rosebud. There we had a big fight with General
[George] Crook, and whipped him. Many soldiers were killed—few
Indians. It was a great fight, much smoke and dust.
there we all went over the divide, and camped in the valley
of Little Horn. Everybody thought, 'Now we are out of the
white man's country. He can live there, we will live here.'
After a few days, one morning when I was in camp north of
Sitting Bull, a Sioux messenger rode up and said, 'Let everybody
paint up, cook, and get ready for a big dance.'
then went to work to cook, cut up tobacco, and get ready.
We all thought to dance all day. We were very glad to think
we were far away from the white man.
went to water my horses at the creek, and washed them off
with cool water, then took a swim myself. I came back to
the camp afoot. When I got near my lodge, I looked up the
Little Horn towards Sitting Bull's camp. I saw a great dust
rising. It looked like a whirlwind. Soon Sioux horseman
came rushing into camp shouting: 'Soldiers come! Plenty
ran into my lodge, and said to my brother-in-law, 'Get your
horses; the white man is coming. Everybody run for horses.'
far up the valley, I heard a battle cry, Hay-ay, hay-ay!
I heard shooting, too, this way [clapping his hands very
fast]. I couldn't see any Indians. Everybody was getting
horses and saddles. After I had caught my horse, a Sioux
warrior came again and said, 'Many soldiers are coming.'
he said to the women, 'Get out of the way, we are going
to have hard fight.'
said, 'All right, I am ready.'
got on my horse, and rode out into my camp. I called out
to the people all running about: 'I am Two Moon, your chief.
Don't run away. Stay here and fight. You must stay and fight
the white soldiers. I shall stay even if I am to be killed.'
rode swiftly toward Sitting Bull's camp. There I saw the
white soldiers fighting in a line [Major Marcus A. Reno's
men]. Indians covered the flat. They began to drive the
soldiers all mixed up—Sioux, then soldiers, then more Sioux,
and all shooting. The air was full of smoke and dust. I
saw the soldiers fall back and drop into the river-bed like
buffalo fleeing. They had no time to look for a crossing.
The Sioux chased them up the hill, where they met more soldiers
in wagons, and then messengers came saying more soldiers
were going to kill the women, and the Sioux turned back.
Chief Gall [of the Sioux] was there fighting, Crazy Horse
then rode toward my camp, and stopped squaws from carrying
off lodges. While I was sitting on my horse I saw flags
come up over the hill to the east like that [he raised his
finger-tips]. Then the soldiers rose all at once, all on
horses, like this [he put his fingers behind each other
to indicate that Custer appeared marching in columns of
fours]. They formed into three bunches [squadrons] with
a little ways between. Then a bugle sounded, and they all
got off horses, and some soldiers led the horses back over
the Sioux rode up the ridge on all sides, riding very fast.
The Cheyennes went up the left way. Then the shooting was
quick, quick. Pop-pop-pop very fast. Some of the soldiers
were down on their knees, some standing. Officers all in
front. The smoke was like a great cloud, and everywhere
the Sioux went the dust rose like smoke. We circled all
round him—swirling like water round a stone. We shoot, we
ride fast, we shoot again. Soldiers drop, and horses fall
on them. Soldiers in line drop, but one man rides up and
down the line—all the time shouting. He rode a sorrel horse
with white face and white fore-legs. I don't know who he
was. He was a brave man.
keep swirling round and round, and the soldiers killed only
a few. Many soldiers fell. At last all horses killed but
five. Once in a while some man would break out and run toward
the river, but he would fall. At last about a hundred men
and five horsemen stood on the hill all bunched together.
All along the bugler kept blowing his commands. He was very
brave too. Then a chief was killed. I hear it was Long Hair
[Custer], I don't know; and then the five horsemen and the
bunch of men, may be so forty, started toward the river.
The man on the sorrel horse led them, shouting all the time.
He wore a buckskin shirt, and had long black hair and mustache.
He fought hard with a big knife. His men were all covered
with white dust. I couldn't tell whether they were officers
or not. One man all alone ran far down toward the river,
then round up over the hill. I thought he was going to escape,
but a Sioux fired and hit him in the head. He was the last
man. He wore braid on his arms [indicating a sergeant].
the soldiers were now killed, and the bodies were stripped.
After that no one could tell which were officers. The bodies
were left where they fell. We had no dance that night. We
day four Sioux chiefs and two Cheyennes and I, Two Moon,
went upon the battlefield to count the dead. One man carried
a little bundle of sticks. When we came to dead men, we
took a little stick and gave it to another man, we counted
the dead. There were 388. There were thirty-nine Sioux and
seven Cheyennes killed, and about a hundred wounded.
white soldiers were cut with knives, to make sure they were
dead; and the war women had mangled some. Most of them were
left just where they fell. We came to the man with big mustache;
he lay down the hills towards the river. The Indians did
not take his buckskin shirt. The Sioux said, 'That is a
big chief. That is Long Hair.' I don't know. I had never
seen him. The man on the white-faced horse was the bravest
day as the sun was getting low our young men came up the
Little Horn riding hard. Many white soldiers were coming
in a big boat, and when we looked we could see the smoke
rising. I called my people together, and we hurried up the
Little Horn, into Rotten Grass Valley. We camped there three
days, and then rode swiftly back over our old trail to the
east. Sitting Bull went back into the Rosebud and down the
Yellow-stone, and away to the north. I did not see him again.'
old man paused and filled his pipe. His story was done.
His mind came back to his poor people on the barren land
where the rain seldom falls.
was a long time ago. I am now old, and my mind has changed.
I would rather see my people living in houses and singing
and dancing. You have talked with me about fighting, and
I have told you of the time long ago. All that is past.
I think of these things now: First, that our reservation
shall be fenced and the white settlers kept out and our
young men kept in. Then there will be no trouble. Second,
I want to see my people raising cattle and making butter.
Last, I want to see my people going to school to learn the
white man's way. That is all.'
was something placid and powerful in the lines of the chief's
broad brow, and his gestures were dramatic and noble in
sweep. His extended arm, his musing eyes, his deep voice
combined to express a meditative solemnity profoundly impressive.
There was no anger in his voice, and no reminiscent ferocity.
All that was strong and fine and distinctive in the Cheyenne
character came out in the old man's talk. He seemed the
leader and the thoughtful man he really is—patient under
injustice, courteous even to his enemies.