Q:

What do maps of the Battle at Little Bighorn look like?

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Quick Answer

Maps of the Battle of Little Bighorn typically look like many historical battlefield maps, in this case depicting the movements of General Custer's troops into the Medicine Tail Coulee against an enormous encampment of Lakota and Cheyenne warriors. Most maps of the battle also show prominent terrain features, such as the Little Bighorn River and Last Stand Hill.

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Full Answer

Maps of battles normally show major troop movements and conflicts superimposed on the terrain. In the case of the Battle of Little Bighorn, a good map shows General Custer dividing his 7th Cavalry into three separate battalions before advancing toward the encampment and the site of the battle. Many maps of this particular battle also show the speculative movements of the large, unified Lakota and Cheyenne warriors who surrounded Custer's own column in the fight.

A useful map of the Battle of Little Bighorn map should depict a fairly linear battlefield site that runs roughly from the southeast to the northwest along the Little Bighorn River. These maps show Major Marcus Reno and Captain Frederick Benteen leading an initial unsuccessful attack with the other two separate battalions of the 7th Cavalry. They both charged the Native American village from the southeast at the start of the fighting, were repulsed, and were forced into a disorganized retreat.

Maps also show conjecture regarding General Custer's route to the northwest, along with movements of Lakota and Cheyenne to trap his column of 210 soldiers between them. Maps of the battle typically show that Custer led his remaining men up a hill that has become known as Last Stand Hill, where he and the final 40 or 50 soldiers in his command were wiped out.

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