It was from Ft.
Lincoln, on May 17, 1876, that Custer and the 7th
Cavalry left for their date with history on the Little Bighorn
River in Montana. The fort has gone through a lot of
restoration and is a pleasure to visit.
I have been to Ft. Lincoln many times. I live in Pierre,
SD and my parents live in Minot, ND. I pass through
Bismarck every time we go up to visit. I decided to pay
the fort a visit on September 4, 2005. It was a perfect
day (98 degrees with a wind of about 60 mph). Oh well,
this was going to be fun anyway. I got there and went
into the bookstore first. I always do this first.
They have a great selection of Custer and Plains Indian War
books. I picked up a DVD (The Western Edge) and a copy
of Richard G. Hardorff's THE CUSTER BATTLE CASUALTIES,
I took a stroll down to the barracks and did some snooping
around there. I basically walked the perimeter of the
fort. I then drove up the hill to the infantry
post. Here the view is spectacular. Bismarck can
be seen to the east and the meandering Missouri River is laid
out before you. I drove back down the hill and took in
the Custer House tour. My tour guide was a high school
girl dressed like a laundress. I felt sorry for her in
the heat but she said she was used to it. When you tour
the house, they basically take you "back in time" to
1875. They talk as if the Custer family still lives
there but are simply away at the moment. I don't recall
the guide's name but she was great. She knew a lot about
the "fun facts" of the Custer clan -- i.e. Custer liked to
slide down the banister of the staircase. Ft. Lincoln
does a very good job of training their tour guides.
After the tour, someone else in the group asked where she went
to college. She replied she was only a junior in high
school and was only working Sundays since school had
started. She did a damn good job. During the tour,
she would ask questions of the guests and joke with
them. I highly recommend this tour.