MBC to LSH and Beyond
Beers & Battlefields Research Expedition
-- Title courtesy of Michael "Max" Reeve

It started about 14 months ago.  A group of Little Big Horn battle buffs decided it was time to do it right.  The cast of characters were as follows -- Michael "Fullsail" Olson, Michael "Max" Reeve, Fred Wagner, Phillip "PJ" Solla, Frank "Bubbabod" Bodden, and yours truly Scott "Treasuredude" Nelson.  We came from all across this great country for one purpose -- to study the Battle of the Little Big Horn.  Oh, yeah, and to drink beer.  Fullsail had beer shipped in for the occasion.  Now that's planning ahead.  Home base was the Super 8 in Hardin.

Through PJ Solla it was arranged to have a tour of the 7th Cavalry's march to the Little Big Horn and the battlefield itself with Dr. Richard and Dennis Fox.  We were treated to a most excellent BBQ at the Fox Ranch on Monday evening.  The tour encompassed 2 full days.  We started Tuesday morning in Busby, the site of the 7th's last camp.  Here we checked out the grave of Two Moons.  Then we followed Davis Creek to the Crow's Nest.  As it had rained the night before, there was a question as to whether we would be able to actually get up to the Crow's Nest.  The Fox brothers 4x4's handled it with ease.  Standing at the Crow's Nest was special.  

We came to the divide and saw the marker placed there to mark the spot where Custer and his troops crossed into the valley of the Little Big Horn River.  It was also at this spot that we ate lunch.  Sandwiches never tasted so good.  We followed Reno Creek.  We stopped at the Morass and at the site of the Lone Tepee.  From a ridge across I-90 we were able to get a panoramic view of the battlefield as well as the placement of Reno's attack and skirmish line.  We were able to get a clear view of where the Indian village stood on June 25, 1876.  A stop at Medicine Tail Coulee provided a closeup view of the Little Big Horn River which was running full due to recent rains and heavy snowfall in the Bighorn Mountains.  Tuesday's leg of the tour ended with a wrap up at the Custer Battlefield Trading Post.  

Wednesday was battlefield day.  We met at the battlefield parking lot and drove down to the Reno-Benteen Defense Site.  A thorough walk around grounds and then onto Weir Point.  Lunch was served at the parking lot under a shade tree.  Back to the battle.  Weir Point - Medicine Tail Coulee - MT Ford - Deep Coulee - Calhoun Hill - Keogh - Last Stand Hill - Deep Ravine.  You get the picture... it was a full and fascinating day.  Even though there were quite a few tourists, there was not a more lonely sight than staring up at Last Stand Hill from Deep Ravine.  Again we "debriefed" at Custer Battlefield Trading Post over pieces of pie.

Each night "important" topics were discussed over cold beers courtesy of Fullsail.  We didn't solve any of the battle's mysteries but we had a lot of fun.

Thursday we slept in a bit.  Then we headed back to the battlefield.  An experiment on Weir Point.  Fred and I climbed to the top while Michael and Max stood at Calhoun.  We were armed with walkie-talkies and binoculars.  A guidon thumbtacked to a broom handle was waved.  Waving the guidon, we were able to be seen by the boys at Calhoun.  We moved to the other peak at Weir and they moved down to Last Stand Hill.  Again the guidon could be spotted.  This was one of the trip highlights for me.  I joined the CBPC in 2001 but this was the first time I had been on Weir Point.

After Weir, we hiked the Keogh sector and got some great shots of the markers in that area.  Checked out the marker to Lame White Man and then to the Indian Memorial.  We wandered through the cemetery.  It was then time for one last stop at the bookstore.  Off to Wyoming.  We were in three separate cars at this time -- Frank and PJ, Michael and Max, and Fred and I.  We stopped at the Mint Bar in Sheridan for a couple cold ones.  Then onto Buffalo.  Trudy at the Bighorn Hotel treated us well.  The buffalo steaks at the Occidental were incredible (Frank had pork chops???).  Most of us headed back to the hotel.   Fred decided to hang behind and enjoy some live bluegrass music.

Friday started with breakfast at the Occidental where we ate outdoors.  This was followed by a visit to the Jim Gatchell Museum.  I have been to the museum twice before but I never get bored.  So much to see.  Adolf Metzger's smashed bugle from the Fetterman Fight is worth it all by itself.  We had a nice talk with museum educator Bob Edwards.  From here we drove north to Ft. Phil Kearney.  As it happened, Bozeman Trail Days was starting.  We stopped in the museum/bookstore and checked things out.  A few of us joined the Fort Phil Kearny/Bozeman Trail Assn.  After walking the around the fort, we headed out to the site of the Wagon Box Fight.  Then it was time for lunch at the Waldorf A' Story Deli.  After getting outta the sun for a while, we headed to the Fetterman Fight site.  We started at the monument and walked the field.  It was great having Frank along here.  He knows a lot about the Wagonbox and Fetterman fights as well as Bozeman Trail history in general.

After supper in Buffalo, we went back to the Occidental and ended up playing poker under the stuffed heads of elk, deer, and mountain goats.  It was great.

On Saturday we went to breakfast at Grandma's Restaurant in Buffalo.  Then back to Fort Phil Kearny for some more living history.  Again, we saw Bob Edwards of the Gatchell Museum.  We all sampled hard tack (yuck!) and washed it down with sarsaparilla.  The high point was the firing of a mountain Howitzer. 

It was here that I bid farewell to my Custer buddies.  They went back north to Billings and the MBC (Montana Brewing Company).  I headed south towards the Black Hills.  When I got to Sturgis, I stopped at the Black Hills National Cemetery and visited the grave of Charles Windolph.  I hit Arby's in Rapid City and got back on the road.  I arrived back in Pierre at around 7:30pm -- exhausted but happy.  The boys had one more night of beer on the town.  Sunday, they all boarded planes home.  The trip of a lifetime was over.

Thanks to all the guys that made this trip memorable -- Max, PJ, Michael, Fred, and Frank.  Also thank you to Richard and Dennis Fox for a great tour.  Because of them I have a much better understanding of the land and the trail the 7th took to the battlefield.  This gained knowledge will come in handy the next time I'm reading a book or spreading out a map on the table.

Thanks guys,
Scott Nelson

While at the Crow's Nest we re-enacted a H.L. Scott photo from 1919...

Scott Crow's

L to R -- unidentified Indian bureau employee, White Man Runs Him, General H.L. Scott, Colonel Tim McCoy

Crows Nest

L to R -- Frederic Wagner, Michael "Max" Reeve, Scott Nelson, Michael Olson

Ranch Group

L to R -- Frederic Wagner, Michael Olson, Michael "Max" Reeve, Scott Nelson, Frank Bodden, Phillip "PJ" Solla




PJ Solla organized our tour with the Fox brothers.  I just had a chance to meet PJ one time face to face during
Montana Mayhem 2007.  He had recently moved to Arizona but you knew when you met him that he was a
New Yorker.  I think he had something to do with the Giants miracle win over the Patriots.
R.I.P. my friend.