Everyone makes mistakes. Some are silly. Some are deadly. Among the deadly mistakes in the wild west—an entire book could be written about this subject—are these whoppers:
–Captain William J. Fetterman boasted that he could wipe out the entire Sioux nation with eighty men. Instead, he and his eighty men were surrounded and killed by a estimated 1,500 Sioux on December 21, 1866, at Wyoming’s Fort Phil Kearny in what became known as the Fetterman Massacre.
–The Donner Party got stuck in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 1846 because they were following advice of an ill-informed emigrant guidebook. California real estate promoter Lansford Hastings was eager to lure settlers to the West Coast, and printed a “travelers’ guide” that recommended the shortcut taken by Jacob and George Donner. This was a terrible oops, as they were trapped by a early winter storm. Of the 89 pioneers who had set out, only 44 survived, most of them by resorting to cannibalism.
–Perhaps the most famous oops of them all was this quote: “The Seventh can handle anything it meets.” That was said by George A. Custer while declining reinforcements for the U.S. Seventh Cavalry en route to the Battle of the Little Big Horn.