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The George Armstrong Custer Collection of the
Monroe County Library System

Custer in the News
In Monroe County and throughout the United States

MONTANA PAPERS GOT SCOOP

TRIBUNE NOT FIRST TO PRINT NEWS

(The Bismarck Tribune, July 6, 1976)

The Bismarck Tribune was the first newspaper to publish a complete, accurate and confirmed report of the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

On July 6, 1876, eleven days after the battle, Col. Clement Lounsberry with the help of about four other people put out the famous "extra". The front page of that edition has been reproduced countless times in souvenirs and in books relating to the battle. Sadly enough, only two or three originals are believed to be in existence.

The Tribune, however, was not the first paper to break the news, several other journals appeared first, although it is generally conceded their account were brief, often erroneous and unconfirmed at the time.

On June 27, 1876, Gen. Alfred Terry, commander of the Yellowstone Expedition , wrote out his first report of the battle, and gave it to a scout named "Muggins" Taylor to be delivered to Fort Ellis and be transmitted from Bozeman.

En route, Taylor met with a correspondent of the Helena Herald and gave him the details of Terry's report. Taylor then rode on to Bozeman, where the editor of the Bozeman Times put out his own extra on July 3. For some unexplained reason, however, the telegrapher at Bozeman failed to put the message on the wire.

Meanwhile, the correspondent of the Helena paper had returned to that city, and on July 5, the Herald put out its extra, dated July 4.

After putting out his paper, Andrew Fisk, the Herald's editor, flashed the news to the Associated Press at Salt Lake City. Thus, several evening papers on the east coast and in California were able to print the news in their late editions of July 5.

These early reports were discredited by the War Department, however, and several papers would not publish them. It was not until the messages from Bismarck, which had been partly put together by Lounsberry, had arrived, that the government was forced to admit the defeat.

(The Bismarck Tribune, July 6, 1976)

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