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Custer's ego came out on top

George Custer Landscape
In episode three of Robert Redford's The West we see turbulent times across the nation.

Welcome back to the episode recap for Robert Redford's The West. This is the show that throws you into the Wild West with only a Hollywood star to hold your hand. 

This week post Civil War America continues to be divided. The crimes of Jesse James are splitting opinion across the nation and the ongoing war between the US Army and the Sioux People is only escalating.

What Went Down in episode 4?

Lt. General George Custer heads brazenly into the Indian camp at The Battle of Little Bighorn and the result is not what the US governments foresaw - more on this later. 

Jesse James' fight with the North continues with an attack on a Minnesota bank in the infamous Northfield Raid. The disastrous robbery sends James in hiding. 

All the while there is a key election taking place, an election that goes on to be one of the most controversial and contentious in American history.

The result sees Rutherford B. Hayes defeat Samuel J. Tilden by one electoral vote leading to the compromise of 1877 which ends the period of Reconstruction. 

With Reconstruction over, Hayes and General William T. Sherman turn back to the situation in the West... aiming to subdue Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.

The battle of little big horn

The Battle of Little Bighorn sees Lt Colonel George Custer, the maverick army leader, taking on the Native Americans in the Great Plaines.

Custer's aim is to end the resistance to Western Expansion in Native lands thus allowing the US free access to natural resources. But, Custer also has a personal objective in the battle. He believes it will boost his standing across the nation and pave his way to the US Presidency. This approach of glory at any cost proves to be his downfall. 

The Battle of Little Bighorn ends it a total disaster for the US Army. Custer and over 250 of his men are defeated and killed by the Sioux People. Historian Karl Jacoby tells the programme Custer "demonstrated himself to be either tremendously daring or tremendously reckless." 

A changing of the tide

While The Battle of Little Bighorn was a great victory for the Sioux and Lakota people, it came at a cost marking the beginning of the end of their ability to resist the US government.

Oglala Lakota filmmaker Larry T. Pourier tells HISTORY, "The Battle of Little Bighorn has mixed emotions. On one hand, it was the greatest day for us because we showed our strength, our wisdom and our spirituality, but it was also our worst day because of everything that came after that."

Washington and America reacted to the defeat with revenge in their hearts. The US Army expanded, all rations for the Sioux were cut off until they ceded the Black Hills and the US officially took away land from the Sioux and Lakota people. 

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