very first casualty of the Battle of the Little Bighorn
was a barely ten years old Lakota boy named Deeds or Deed
or Wicohan in Lakota. Searching for ponies, Deeds, and
at least one fellow Lakota (some say two), had been away
from the village and came across a box of hardtack. Some
sources tell of two boys, some of Deeds and his father
Brown Back. This happened in a deep ravine.
Two men (?) were seen near the divide on the morning of
June 25 by Lt. Charles A Varnum. But only the father,
Brown Back, would return to the camp sites in the valley.
(See Hardorff, "Custer's Trail to Wolf Mountains:
A Reevaluation of Evidence,"
Custer and His Times. Book Two, pp. 110-11)
What happened to his ten-year-old son before reaching
the safety of the Indian village? While examining the
hardtack box, a group of troopers - probably the ones
who lost the box - came back. They immediately opened
fire and hit Deeds in the chest. He died immediately.
Drags-The-Rope, another eye-witness of the Battle of the
Little Bighorn, also relates that the first casualty of
the battle was boy named Deeds, According to Seventh Cavalry
survivor Daniel Kanipe, Custer ordered his men into a
deep ravine on the morning of June 25, apparently intending
to remain hidden there for a dawn attack the next day.
But the soldiers lost a box of hardtack off one of their
horses as they trotted into the ravine. Kanipe said he
believed the loss of that hardtack box and the subsequent
killing of a Sioux caused Custer to attack immediately.
The reports with regard to Deeds are conflicting and puzzling.
Some sources say he was Sans Arc, others say he was Hunkpapa.
When he was killed, he was accompanied by an older brother
or his father. In both cases the person was called Brown
Back. Other sources link Deeds to Moving Robe Woman (Hunkpapa),
who fought in the battle to revenge her killed brother.
But this seems to be a misinterpretation of various reports.
Moving Robe’s or Mary Crawler’s brother – her father was
the well-known chief Crawler - was One Hawk, a casualty
of Reno’s attack.
One thing seems to be sure: when we speak of the first
casualties of the battle, we’re talking of two persons.
One is a boy of about 10 years (Deeds), the other is a
teen or young man (Moving Robe Woman’s brother One Hawk?).
Moving Robe Woman said in an interview that her brother
was killed before the battle of the Little Bighorn, which
is an elastic term. Rain-In-The-Face even related that
Moving Robe Woman’s brother was killed in the battle with
Three Stars Crook on the Rosebud Creek. Little Soldier,
Sitting Bull’s stepson, told Frank B. Zahn in 1936, that
“a young boy, Deeds, and Hona, were shot at by soldiers“.
Again, two persons.
The exact location of Deeds’ kill-site is not known. But
all reports agree that he was killed some distance from
the actual first battlefield and skirmish line (west of
the Little Bighorn River and south of the Hunkpapa camp).
Most reports say he was killed east of the river, below
the forks of Reno Creek.
In any case, we can say Deeds was the first victim. He
discovered the soldiers by chance or was discovered by
them. And that was the reason he had to die.
Most accounts agree that Deeds’ grandfather was the Hunkpapa
chief Four Horns; another relative was Sitting Bull.
Indians: Answers to Today's Questions by Jack Utter
Noon: The Indian Narrative of Custer's Defeat by
Views of the Custer Fight: A Source Book by Richard
A Good Day to Die! The Indian Casualties of the Custer
Fight by Richard G. Hardorff
of the American West: The Indian Interviews of Eli S.
Ricker, 1903-1919 by Eli Seavey Ricker