Harry M. Krusee
Harry M. Krusee was born Henry in New York City, New York, on October 5, 1840. When the young man turned sixteen years of age he decided to join the military, as many young men did at this time. He enlisted in July 1856, under his birth name of Henry, though he preferred to be called Harry. He joined the New York Volunteers, Company E Artillery, as a bugler. In October of 1861, he was stationed at Camp Hooker, Maryland. There he would serve for five years as a bugler until his discharge on October 19, 1866.
He would serve his country for most of his life, and during his time in the military he would also meet and marry Mary Octavia Donavan of Marietta, Georgia. He re-enlisted in 1866, but this time in the Seventh Cavalry of Ft. Riley, Kansas. On October 26, 1873, he was assigned to the Dakota Territory to serve under Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer. Harry happened to be with Custer during the discovery of gold in the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1874. Mary would follow him during this journey. She was with him during his time at both Ft. Seward and Ft. Meade in the Dakota Territory. Mary was one of the very few women at these forts. She worked as the Post Hospital Matron and served with Elizabeth Custer, wife of the Lieutenant Colonel.
On June 15, 1876, Harry was stationed at Powder River, Montana. This placement would tie his history to the Battle of the Little Bighorn, known to the Plains tribes as the Battle of the Greasy Grass. During the Battle of the Little Bighorn, also known as Custer’s Last Stand, he was assigned to Major Marcus Reno’s unit. He survived this immensely bloody battle for this reason. Reno’s unit was south of Custer, and the plan was to have Reno hit from the South and Custer from the North. Fortunately his unit was not completely wiped out as Custer’s was. The following day Harry would be assigned the detail of identifying the bodies on the battlefield.
Less than ten years later, on November 30, 1885, Harry would receive his final discharge. He would live out the rest of his days in South Dakota until his death in Hot Springs on June 3, 1925, where he is buried at the Hot Springs National Cemetery. His obituary claimed that he was the final surviving member of the 1874 Custer Expedition to the Black Hills.