Jane Peranteau sends this rendition of a conversation with a boy who died with George Custer in 1876.
It came about this way. First, she posted a comment here:
“In traveling from NM to MT, we stopped at the Battle of the Little Bighorn memorial, one of my favorite places. Out in the middle of nowhere, the grassy fields seem to stand as they always have, wide open to the wind, unobstructed by signs of man and progress. I’d been thinking of it for days, and because of my connection to your sessions, I realized the connection I had with this place, which then provided the connection to the boy I was then, fighting as a soldier under Custer. I think the battlefield looked almost the same to each of us, and I stood where he stood, or rode, or fell. Today’s session talks of connecting as bundles or communities of strands, `or else where is the connection,’ and this made sense to me, and does justice to how alive the boy feels to me. This kind of connection feels like significant work or progress to me, and I think of how much of it you’ve done and then enabled us to do. Maybe we should think in terms of significance rather than 3D importance, to acknowledge how it is shaping us. Because of you, I’m going to try to talk to the boy.”
Which she did:
“I talked to the boy earlier this morning, and his energy was with the battle, so it was very different. I felt often that the words were more mine, because as an emotionally stirred 15 year old of another era, he was saying words I couldn’t always get, but the feelings were unmistakable. I had gone through the list of members of the 7th Cavalry, Custer’s men, to see if I could spark a name, but I’m not sure. Going through the list and reading some about the archaeological work done on the battlefield helped set me in place to do the listening. Clearly, by Frank’s example, communication gets easier if we keep it up…. I’m transcribing the conversation with the boy now and will send to Frank for posting, if he so chooses.”
This she did, saying that the conversation “feels a little out of control, as usual.” Her report follows. Perhaps others will emulate her.
–15 year old local boy (from the Rosebud area near Little Bighorn, 1876), lied about his age to be part of the Custer campaign. Probably not registered to the 7th Cavalry.
May 6, 2019
Though it was Custer I’d thought and read about, it was not him I had the direct connection with. It was the boy, all of fifteen-going-on-sixteen. I used my own words when I couldn’t catch his or his were more feeling than words. I could tell he was re-living it, and I hope it helped.
“Out of my skin with the excitement of being here. I wouldn’t/couldn’t be anywhere else once I knew of it. What a tale to tell, afterwards, of the hero I’d be just by being there. I saw it as a great beginning, to do as Custer did, to make my fame on the battlefield. He spoke of our connections to battles long gone in history, but the men who fought them still remembered for their courage and bravery.
“He sat his horse better than any man I’d seen, riding at times with his boots outside of his stirrups, as the injuns did, who were really the best riders I’d ever seen. We were so afraid of them! They never looked anything but angered and mean about it, painting theirselves to look more so.
“And there was Custer, standing in his stirrups, clean-faced–this being clean was important to him–his clothes fitting him better than any woman’s. We hardly knew what to think of him, both this and that, soft and hard, afraid, too, and yet not. A man knows fear in another man no matter how he (sallies? slays?) to hide it. It can’t be hid. It can’t be hid in total. It can’t. We knew he had it and we were (troubled?), but we rode. What else for it?
“And we fell and fell and fell. How could it be happening? We were the best. They weren’t to kill us. We were to be their executioners. It’s as if I sat and watched, doing nothing. Doing nothing. Nothing to be done. It was their day. I saw them advance on him and knew I was lost to this life. I thought of how my ma would miss me, and how I was already missing her. I watched my death blow fall and felt myself float free, more melancholy than sad, seeing the vista of what might have been–knowing my ma as an old woman, seeing my children, knowing my girl. I felt it all come out of me and go elsewhere, taking part of me with it. And I went up.”
I feel like he’s my own child, or I’m his, that we shared this experience that he led. I have such gratitude for being of him.