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Giovanni Martini, the bugler from Apricale trusted by General Custer

The only man to survive the epic and bloody battle of Little Bighorn between the 7th Cavalry regiment under the command of general Custer and native Americans was Giovanni Martini, the bugler from Apricale, whom many believe was Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer’s right hand man.

The letter Custer entrusted to Martini, thereby saving his life, is kept in the Museum of the Military Academy of West Point, in the state of New York.

Rumour has it that he was a “free spirit”, to whom family life was not particularly well suited and that is why he left Apricale, never to return. Giovanni took part, as a bugler, in Giuseppe Garibaldi’s expedition of the Mille, where he acquired military expertise. He then went to Glasgow in Scotland from where he embarked on S.S. Tyrian, bound for the States. A year later, he enrolled in H Squadron of the 7th Cavalry under Custer’s command and directly at the orders of Captain Benteen. Three years after the battle of Little Bighorn, Martini married the Irishwoman Julia Higgins, with whom he had eight children, naming his firstborn George in memory of Colonel Custer.

He died in 1922, run over by a truck and was buried in the Cypress Hill National Cemetery. The tombstone says “John Martin, Sergeant of the United States 7th Cavalry, He bore General Custer’s last message in the battle of Little Bighorn on 25th June 1876.” A man from Liguria who became a hero and patriot in the United States of America.

[Samirah Muran]

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