On April 15, 1853, Daniel Kanipe, one of two survivors of Custer’s battalion at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, was born in Marion.
Kanipe enlisted in Company C of the 7th United States Cavalry in 1872 and briefly served with the federal forces occupying Lincolnton during the Reconstruction era.
In 1876, Lt. Col. George A. Custer led the 7th Cavalry into present day Montana, eventually reaching a large Native American encampment along the Little Bighorn River. Underestimating the number of warriors at the camp, Custer decided that a frontal assault was the best strategy. He chose to ride directly towards the Native position with his own battalion, leaving Captain Frederick Benteen’s battalion in reserve.
Kanipe and John Martin, both part of Custer’s battalion, were sent to relay messages to the train of pack mules supplying the unit and to Benteen. With the destruction of Custer’s column imminent, Benteen held his battalion back and refused to allow the couriers to return to battle.
Kanipe was often called upon to relate his experience at Little Bighorn. He became a celebrity among admirers of the “Old West” and researchers of “Custer’s Last Stand.” His recollections became the basis for many of the 20th century accounts of the battle.
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