Update: On Saturday, December 6, 2014, I will be teaming up with forensic geologist Scott Wolter in the world premiere of Custer’s Blood Treasure, the latest episode of H2’s #1 hit original series, America Unearthed. You can read more about it here.
On June 25, 1876, General George Custer led the U.S. Army’s Seventh Cavalry Regiment against a large Indian army. He and his forces were wiped out in what became known as Custer’s Last Stand. In the process, he left behind a valuable treasure which remains lost to this day.
The Lost Treasure of General Custer?
The 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie guaranteed possession of the Black Hills, a region stretching from North Dakota to Montana, to the Lakota Indians. In 1874, General Custer was sent on a scouting mission to the area. He returned a month later, reporting gold “from the grassroots down.” This touched off a gold rush. Initially, the U.S. Army tried to honor the treaty by evicting the many prospectors. But eventually, it gave up.
In 1876, the Lakota joined forces with the Cheyenne and Sioux. Led by Gall, Sitting Bull, and Crazy Horse, they revolted. General Custer, along with 650 men, was dispatched to end the uprising. When he arrived at Little Bighorn River, he distributed four months of back pay to his men, some $25,000 in gold coins and paper currency.
On June 25, 1876, Custer led his men into battle against the combined Indian army. They were severely outnumbered and Custer’s poor leadership led to an eventual slaughter. Here’s where the story gets a bit odd. Supposedly, the Indians stripped the dead and stole their gold coins and paper money. They placed it in a saddle bag and buried it in a secret location. A Cheyenne chieftain named Two Moons later told the story to a white Indian trader named W.P. Moncure. Two Moons also drew him a map to the lost treasure.
The Lost Treasure Gets Lost Again
In 1936, Moncure reburied the body of Two Moons in a stone and mortar mausoleum. Twenty years later, a reporter named Kathryn Wright investigated the mausoleum. She discovered a hidden vault under a bronze plaque. She persuaded the Cheyenne to open it for her.
“Inside the vault were remembrances of Two Moons. These included a portrait of Two Moons, stone tools, arrowheads, sacred Indian relics, and a rifle belonging to one of the troopers of the Seventh Cavalry. There was also a large manila envelope.” ~ Dick Mullins, The Daily Inter Lake, July 1, 1957
A message about the lost treasure was typed on the envelope. Part of it read, “Hiding place and location of money and trinkets taken from dead soldiers on Custer Battlefield.” The last part of the envelope said it was to be opened on June 25, 1986. This would be 110 years after Custer’s Last Stand and 50 years after the reburial.
In 1957, Kathryn Wright published her story in Montana magazine and received permission to open the envelope. However, someone had already beaten her to it, breaking open the vault and stealing the sealed envelope and other artifacts. The lost treasure of General Custer has never been found. It’s possible it was dug up years ago by whoever stole the envelope. But its also possible no one ever found it. For all we know, Custer’s lost treasure is still out there somewhere, waiting to be dug up.
Guerrilla Explorer’s Wild West Coverage
- 11/24/11: How Wild was the Wild West?
- 12/16/11: Did Jesse James Fake his Own Death? (by Sean McLachlan)
- 1/9/12: The Largest Mass Execution in American History?
- 3/30/12: Who Killed off all the Buffalo?
- 5/26/12: The Lost Treasure of General Custer?
- 7/12/12: What is the Dead Man’s Hand?
- 12/3/14: Custer’s Blood Treasure (America Unearthed)
- 12/9/14: Does the Lost Custer Treasure Really Exist?