Allison-Antrim Museum 

                                     Greencastle, PA

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Franklin County Civil War Trails of History exhibit –
Custer and Little Big Horn memorabilia.
THIS IS WAS A PAST EXHIBIT YEARS AGO.


Visitors will have a rare opportunity to view memorabilia and artifacts from the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876, which are part of a private collection belonging to a friend of the museum.  All items that are on display are related to the 7th Cavalry, which was under the command of General George A. Custer.  Among the numerous items on display will be Springfield trapdoor carbines; Colt single-action handguns; wooden ammunition boxes from 1870 – 1884 which were carried on mule pack trains; a U.S. trooper’s suspender belt buckle which was found on the Timber Fight Line where nine troopers and scouts were killed; a .45 caliber Springfield carbine bullet and cartridge case that were found on Reno’s retreat route; a 7th Cavalry sword; pouches and canteens.  Sioux and Cheyenne artifacts include bows and arrows; the personal pipe and pipe bag of High Eagle, one of the Sioux Indian survivors of the Battle of Little Bighorn.

Cheyenne, which began on December 3, 1875, when the Government ordered that all Sioux be notified "that unless they shall remove within the bounds of their reservations (and remain there) before the 31st of January next, they shall be deemed hostile and treated accordingly by the military force." Considering the terrible winter weather that year, it was impossible for the Indians to comply with the order because of the short, two-month time period.  Because the deadline was not met by the Sioux, on February 7, 1876, Lt. Gen. P. H. Sheridan was given the authority to begin operations against the “hostile” Indians.  The spring campaign of 1876 ended with the loss of 262 U.S. troops under the command of Gen. Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.


 

After Custer divided the 7th Cavalry into three battalions on June 25, 1876, he, Maj. Marcus A. Reno and Capt. Frederick W. Benteen, each led their battalion in different directions. While Reno and Benteen’s companies encountered and fought the Indians and suffered the loss of 32 men and 44 wounded, there were survivors.  But Custer’s three companies were no match for the approximate 5,000 Sioux Indians, which also included Cheyenne warriors.  On the afternoon of June 25, 1876, there were no white survivors of Custer’s last stand against the Sioux and Cheyenne along the Little Bighorn River.


 

Out of the weapons belonging to the 262 U.S. troops killed during Custer’s Last Stand, only three Colt single-action handguns were recovered by the U.S.  The rest, along with the Springfield rifles, were taken by the Indians.  The first piece in the owner’s collection was a Colt single-action handgun, which was purchased 20 years ago from a member of the Hobema Tribe in Saskatchewan, Canada. The government kept records detailing which company had which serial numbers, as marked on the guns. The authenticity of the weapons in the exhibit, as being from the 7th Cavalry, has been verified by Jack Kopec of California, a well-known expert on weaponry.

Dale Harrison as Custer

During open house at Allison-Antrim Museum, 365 South Ridge Avenue, Greencastle, PA, on Saturday February 4, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Dale Harrison, a living history portrayer, will be present to meet and talk with visitors as he portrays General George A. Custer. Harrison will be dressed in reproduction buckskin garb, similar to that worn by Custer when he was stationed on the Plains prior to the Battle of the Little Bighorn.  Cecilia Rorro will accompany Harrison and will be portraying Libbie, Custer’s wife.

Harrison’s living history portrayal coincides with the special exhibit – Artifacts from Custer’s Last Stand at the Little Bighorn.  The exhibit includes among other things photographs of Custer, bows, arrows, Sioux pipe, pipe pouch, Springfield carbines, and Colt single-action guns.

Harrison has a Masters Degree in History from the University of Mississippi and did post-graduate work at Lehigh University. He is retired from teaching history at the Nazareth High School, Nazareth, PA.  Presently, Harrison is the owner of the Blanket Brigade, a Civil War sutlery. 

Harrison has portrayed Custer for about nine years, throughout the East at various Civil War reenactments. He has also portrayed Gen. Custer on Last Stand Hill in Montana and will do so again this June for the 130th anniversary of the Battle of the Little Bighorn.  Harrison is a member of the Little Bighorn Associates and the Sons of Union Veterans.