While in the grip of my addiction, I was listening to old (somewhat superfluous to use the word "old") Johnny Horton songs, one of which was entitled "Jim Bridger". One verse caught my attention which went like this:
"He spoke with General Custer and said listen Yellow Hair The Sioux are a great nation so treat 'em fair and square Sit in on their war councils, don't laugh away their pride But Custer didn't listen, at Little Big Horn Custer died"
I was curious about whether a) Bridge was still alive at the time of LBH and b) if Bridger had ever met GAC. I did a Google and found that "Old Gabe" died in 1881. Just out of curiousity I took a look at the Wikopedia entry for Jim. Of all things, they have this at the end of the entry:
"Jim Bridger also had a relationship with the Sioux, and respected them. When General Custer was in Talks with the Sioux Indians, Bridger told Custer to treat them with respect, because of how strong their nation is. General Custard did not heed Jim Bridgers advice, and at the battle of Little Big Horn, General Custard fell in Battle."
So, I will go to you guys. Is there a record of any contact between Bridger and Custer?
Bridger left government service in 1867; retiring to his farm in Missouri. He briefly came out of retirement to serve as guide briefly in 1868. Not sure if this was with Custer or not; Bridger was dead against the winter campaign, which, although it was brutal and costly in terms of horses lost, was a success despite his admonitions.
At any rate the song is most likely poetic license; Brigder went blind shortly after the Washita; where the 7th was not fighting the Sioux anyway.
Any contact between the two surely must be mentioned in _My Life on the Plains_, but my guess is there was none.
Steve, no doubts whatsoever that the portion regarding Bridger telling GAC to respect the Sioux, etc. prior to LBH was poetic license.
GAC had all sorts of people telling him things according to the troubadors. I watched a special about Johnny Cash on Ovation last night (excellent by the way, all home movies set in the early and mid-60's with no narrator voice overs).
Anyway, he did a tour of Indian reservations, including the Sioux reservation. At the Sioux concert, he did a song entitled "Big Foot" about the "battle" of Wounded Knee. Among the verses was this gem:
"Big Foot said to Custer, "Stay away from Crazy Horse." But Custer crossed into Sioux land, And he never came back across."
I have never heard of Bridger and GAC ever having contact. At about the time of the Washita, Bridger was up at Ft. Phil Kearny. He was there at the time of the Fetterman disaster, if I remember correctly, and left the fort shortly thereafter. As for his eyesight, he did lose it or it began failing sometime around then. As I recall, when the Templeton wagon train had its fight at Crazy Woman crossing on its way to Ft. Phil K. and was holed up after the attack, it was Bridger who found them out in that vastness, so his eyesight couldn't have been too bad.