Black Hills Expedition (1874)

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The Black Hills Expedition (1874) was led by Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer through modern day North and South Dakota. The U.S. government had instructed Custer to undertake the expedition with the objective of finding a suitable location for a new military fort. Commands were also given to explore the possibility of gold being present in the area, and to seek a new route to the south. Departing on July 2, 1874, George Custer lead the Seventh Cavalry and an expeditionary force totaling over one thousand men, and one woman. Along with the military units, a scientific corps was assembled to take part in the expedition. This team included Minnesota state geologist Professor N. H. Winchell; paleontologist George Bird Grinnell of Yale University; assistant geologist A. B. Donaldson; and two miners. Also present were two members of the press; photographer W. H. Illingworth, and William Ellery Curtis. The group also had with it Custer’s favorite Indian scout, Bloody Knife. The expedition returned to Fort Abraham on August 30, 1874 after covering nearly 1,200 miles and lasting sixty days.


  • Library of Congress. NACO. Control Number: no2012030039
  • Radabaugh, J.S (1962). Custer explores the black hills 1874. Military Affairs, 26(Winter, 1962-1963), 162-170.

Date Range

1874 -




  • Black Hills
  • United States
  • Wyoming


Expedition name