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George Custer's Reckless Buffalo Chase

In the spring of 1867, George Custer and his regiment were on a scouting expedition on the plains of Kansas. Suddenly Custer's English greyhounds, his constant companions, began to chase some antelope over a distant hill. In spite of himself, Custer could not resist joining the chase. It was not long before the general, his horse, and his pack of dogs had left his regiment far behind.

He quickly forgot his men and his mission when he crested the first hill and saw his first buffalo: an enormous, shaggy bull. He put the spurs to his horse's sides and began the chase. As the horse gained on the massive buffalo, Custer yelled with excitement. An avid hunter, he had to bring this trophy home. He drew his pearl-handled pistol. But as he came alongside the thundering beast and shoved the barrel into its thick shaggy side, Custer paused. Feeling the ground shake, hearing the ragged breathing of both animals side by side, he pulled the pistol back, to "prolong the enjoyment of the chase."

After several minutes, Custer decided it was time for the kill. Again, He shoved the pistol into the side of the buffalo. But, as if sensing Custer's intentions, the buffalo abruptly turned toward the horse. The horse veered away from the buffalo's horns, and when Custer tried to grab the reins with both hands, his finger accidentally fired a bullet into his own horse's head, killing it instantly. Custer was thrown to the ground and then struggled quickly to his feet to face the animal that had been his prey only seconds before. Instead of charging, the buffalo stared at the strange, foolish man and walked off.

Horseless and alone, Custer began the long, dangerous walk back to his regiment. In less than a decade, this same recklessness and arrogance would lead the General and his men to their death on a flat-topped hill next to a river called the Little Bighorn.

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