In late June of 2000, my family and I were taking a cross-country auto trip from western Washington state to Indiana, where my in-laws lived. My wife (now ex) obtained her route from some Internet site, which would allow us to see much more of the country than we would ordinarily see by way of the freeway. On the second day of the trip we were in eastern Montana – talk about badlands! There were parts in which the road just did not exist, but more than that, there was this feeling that we should not be there. We saw a plaque by the road that near there General Terry met with Custer and his subordinates on a steamboat. I thought it was interesting, but that was all. I should explain that I’m a Civil War buff, and that the books I have on equipment and military dress cover a period from the end of the Mexican-American War to the end of the Civil War, or from 1860 – 1876. I’m not “into” the Indian wars at all. About a few miles from the plaque (I was sitting on the passenger side) I saw a flat area lightly covered by a mid-morning mist. I thought that was strange; I’d never seen fog or mist in the summer before. Soon after, I saw four riders on horseback, riding diagonally away from the road. They were dressed as cavalrymen from 1876, and all I could think of was, “Those re-enactors really got their stuff right.” They were riding at a slow walk, and were riding four-abreast. They did not wear the polyester shirts and yellow kerchiefs like in the old Hollywood movies; these guys were wearing the wool sack coats similar to the ones worn during the Civil War, and black felt hats that were so bad that the soldiers had to keep the brims up with hooks and eyes.
The rider in the far right (I never saw his face) had his carbine in his right hand with the butt resting on the top of his thigh. The man to his left had his head and upper body turned to the left. All I could see was that he was clean-shaven and that he was talking to the man next to him. The rider to this man’s left, I saw quite a few details. He was wearing a light gray undershirt, his fatigue jacket and hat were slung over the pommel of his saddle. He had a dark moustache, and a heavy, two-day old growth of beard. His hair was closely cropped and uncombed. The rider at the far left wore what looked like a privately purchased hat, at least it looked better than the other troopers. The man turned to his right in the saddle – in fact, he nearly turned around. He put his right hand on the rear of his horse, and as he did so I saw on his lower right sleeve the “Veteran’s Stripe,” a hash mark like the Navy wears, only this was red with white edging. It was given to those personnel who had served in the Civil War. My eyes met this man’s – they were black – and then the riders were gone!
From that point, until we entered Wisconsin, I was terrified! I had this fear that we were about to be attacked and slain. Even though I was carrying a Glock 17 semi auto handgun with extra loaded magazines and ammo, I was still in fear of my life, and that of my family. No one else saw these riders, nor felt the fear I had, but I tell you, I’ll never visit Montana again!