Global Politics

Custer's last flag

A damaged cavalry flag that was found on the battlefield at Little Bighorn went on the auction block today. It fetched more than eight million dollars, as The World's Carol Zall reports.

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The tattered and blood stained silk flag measures 27 and a half by 33 inches; it has thirteen red and white stripes, and a blue field with 35 gold stars.

Douglas Scott is a professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln � and author of the book �They Died with Custer: Soldiers' Bones From the Battle of the Little Bighorn�.

While that battle is known as one of the great defeats for the US Army by Native American peoples, what most people might not realize is that many of those �American soldiers� were recent immigrants.

Scott says that Custer's regiment, the 7th Cavalry, epitomizes the US Army in 1876 in its make up � about 58 percent American born, with 20 percent born in Ireland, 20 percent born in Germany, and a smattering who had come from France, Italy, the UK, Canada � and a few other places as well

Charles Windalf, originally from Germany, was awarded the Medal of Honor, for bringing water to the wounded. He lived until 1949 � the last of the regiment to die.

Another of those non-US born soldiers was a trumpeter, Giovanni Martini from Italy, or John Martin, as he sometimes called himself.

Custer sent Martini to get help. Martini delivered the message, but the help never got to Custer.

Martini lived. But 268 American soldiers died � as well as about 75 Native Americans.