This Week in Old West History - June 25
- This week's list of old west historical tidbits remembers the Battle of Little Bighorn, as well as the birth of one of Western films' most loved character actors.
1876: As foreshadowed in our previous entry, today is the anniversary of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, in which General George Custer lead some 260 men to their deaths at the hands of a combined Sioux / Cheyenne force.
1868: Ben Thompson began his two-year stint in a Texas prison on this day, after nearly murdering his brother-in-law, Jim Moore, who had abused Thompson's wife. Following his release from prison, Thompson had a colorful life, crossing paths with legends such as Wild Bill Hickok, and was even briefly the city marshal for Austin, Texas.
1876: Getting back to Little Bighorn, on this day the sole survivor on the US side was discovered: Comanche the Horse, steed of Captain Miles Keogh. After healing from his wounds, he was officially given the equine equivalent of an early retirement with no more work asked of him, and eventually became one of only two American horses to be buried with full military honors.
1866: On this day, Congress established the US Army's 10th Cavalry Regiment, better remembered today as the “Buffalo Soldiers.” This was the first entirely African American regiment formed in peacetime in the US. They served with distinction throughout the Indian Wars, the Spanish-American War, and even into World Wars I and II.
1919: Beloved character actor Louis Lindley Jr, better known as Slim Pickens, was born on this day. He rose to fame playing a variety of old west eccentrics, alongside such greats as The Duke and Steve McQueen. Later in life, he'd be best-remembered for his comic roles, especially his legendary exit from Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove.
1864: On this day, President Lincoln officially signed the Yosemite Grant, making the Yosemite Valley area the first officially-protected Federal park. This set the precedent for establishing the network of National Parks that we still enjoy to this day.
1892: Those notorious old west outlaws, the Dalton Gang, scored a major haul on this day, robbing a train near Red Rock of over $11,000. That's over a quarter of a million dollars in today's money! (One sometimes wonders why these gangs ever needed to pull off more than one heist.)
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