11 Dec 2010

Flag from Little Bighorn battle sells for $3m

8:55 pm on 11 December 2010

A flag carried by Lieutenant-General George Custer and his 7th US Cavalry troops into their last stand at the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876 has been sold at auction for $3 million.

The guidon is the only one not captured or lost during the famous battle. Previously valued at $6.7 million, it was bought by a private American collector in the auction at Sotheby's in New York.

The former owner, the Detroit Institute of Arts, paid $US54 for the flag in 1895. The institute's current director, Graham Beal, says they'll use the proceeds to "strengthen our collection of Native American art, which has a rather nice irony to it".

General Custer and all his soldiers - more than 200 of them - were killed by thousands of Lakota Sioux and Northern Cheyenne warriors during their attempt to reclaim the Black Hills region of Montana from the Lakota as part of a US government campaign.

The flag was found beneath a dead cavalryman following the Battle of Little Bighorn - or the Battle of Greasy Grass Creek, as the victors named it.

Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse were among the Lakota leaders who fought in the battle.