March 29, 2004
Totally immersed in Custer. It’s so addictive. I understand how so many people become obsessed with the Little Big Horn battle. Such a mystery of Long Hair’s final movements. Just got off the phone with Paul Huton (2:40). He is so knowledgeable on the whole battle. Here’s a stunner to me: Paul thinks John Ford’s Fort Apache is the best portrayal of the Custer fight. When I protested that the final battle portrayed in Fort Apache is over in a flash with Henry Fonda’s troops annihilated in a dusty wave, Paul said, “Yes, that’s why it’s so perfect.”
Gus and I worked all morning screening Son of the Morning Star which most everyone agrees is the most historically correct in terms of gear, uniforms and depicting all the aspects of the fight. We freeze-framed several images so I can illustrate them. They have Custer (Gary Cole) getting shot and dying before the end of the fight.
Worked yesterday on the snow painting. Need to finish that tomorrow. Gus and I are whipping up the four stages (maps) of the final fight. Here are the known movements:
The Four Known Movements of Custer’s Battalion
1. The stalled attack on the village at the mouth of Medicine Tail Coulee
2. The diagonal withdrawal from the ford toward higher ground
3. The action of Calhoun’s troops on the east end of the fight
4. The final rush of surviving soldiers on the ridge down towards the tree-lined river bank.
Other than that it’s “like a bad dream with horses and men all mixed up in fear and hate.” Maybe just this once, Hutton is right.
"Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish."
—John Quincy Adams
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