Weir said they observed Indians riding around LANCING objects on the ground. Custer's chest wound may have be just that and not a gunshot wound. I'm not saying such was the case but rather a possibility. As far as mutilations go.... one Indian was asked why some were severely cut-up while others were not answered. "Mutilations were for the living." I'm sure when the Indians rushed Last Stand Hill there were still survivors shot up pretty bad, but alive. I believe Tom was among these.
Also in regard to that stupid sewing awl story... gunshots to the head will result in bleeding from the ears, nose and mouth in some cases.
Last Edit: Jan 6, 2014 12:20:02 GMT -5 by moderator
If you mean no U.S. Army division commander, in any war, can come close to Custer's record in the Civil War, you are right. <g>
3- Only if you count women and children. As a counter question do you know of any other officers command that lost more men than Custer
Just count Warriors...I don't think any Army officer's commander ever killed as many Warriors as Custer's actions did. Any tribe, any year. Might find one or two in the Lakota Minnesota uprising though...there were some big casualties then, both Warrior and families. May still not equal Custer's Washita, Yellowstone, and LBH inflictions, though.
4-By this statement I hope your not in any way attempting to give some validity to the thought that Custer could be compared to Alexander the great
No...apples and oranges. And entirely different contexts. I don't even compare Custer to Sheridan or Sherman, or Lee or Stuart...he didn't have that level of experience/mission.
He was just a division commander...youngest one in the Army (and again, probably in the U.S. Army's entire history).
Insofar as enemy killed, the leading two regiments were the First & Second with the Seventh in the middle of the pack. Somewhere I have a spreadsheet with the breakdowns.
But that is over a longer span of time with many different commanders.
And Custer has a MUCH, MUCH, more distinguished combat record as a division commander than either Gen'l Buford or Gen'l Stuart had. Not saying that he was a better leader than those two...just that he had a much BIGGER and more dramatic Civil War record.
Major General (Bvt) Custer wasn't even in the same league with Major General James Ewell Brown Stuart (CSA); according to Major General John Sedgewick, General J.E.B. Stuart was " the finest cavalryman ever foaled in America". And, (as you will probably surmise from my screen name) I have to WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with General Sedgewick....Now you just made me ask myself... "IF J.E.B. Stuart was in command of the Seventh....." Unfortunately....We'll never know....
Semper Fidelis Duane A. Brinson, Key West Fl. (AKA RebCav)
Duane, here are a few other Confederate opinions regarding the skill and competence of General Custer:
"I look upon General Custer as one of the best Cavalry Officers that this or any other country ever produced." --- General Joseph Kershaw C.S.A. ---------------------------------------------------------------------
"I knew General Custer well;...and I can truly say now that I have never met a more enterprising, gallant or dangerous enemy during those four years of terrible war...." --- General Thomas Rosser, C.S.A. ---------------------------------------------------------------------
"Of the Cavalry leaders on the Union side...having met them in more than 100 fights, and I do not hesitate to say, that in skill and boldness, not one of them was the equal of General Custer." --- Pvt. Steven Gaines, 14 Virginia Cavalry, C.S.A.
As far as comparing Custer vs. Stuart, Custer was the only US Cavalry commander that Stuart failed to defeat during the war. First at Gettysburg, then at Yellow Tavern. In fact, Stuart's defeat at the latter engagement by Custer's cavalry abruptly ended his career, sad to say.
"The more I see of movement here (Little Big Horn Battlefield), the more I have admiration for Custer, and I am satisfied his like will not be found very soon again.”
~ Gen. Nelson Miles, Commanding General of the Army ------
"With our cherished ones deliverance within our grasp we waited breathless for the order that never came."
Fiddlesticks. You made a blanket statement stating that Custer was more responsible for Indian combat deaths than any regiment, not regimental commander. Also, my time frames were 1866 thru 1876. If I were to delve into the battle history of the Division of the Missouri and cross-reference regimental commanders' time in command vs. combat actions of their troops, I'm sure that I could win that one also.
Sure, there are all kinds of ways you can look at this. Some regiments had many small actions over a longer period of time that might have built up casualties. But the topic here pertains to Custer's tactical leadership, you see...so I'm looking for actions where Army leaders led their forces to result in the most Warrior casualties. That should tell us something about the relative abilities of these officers, not their regiments.
Conz, also quit drinking the Custer kool-aide regarding Gettysburg. GAC played a pivotal part, no doubt about it, but the commander who planned the tactics to be used and incidentally commanded GAC was David Gregg. Gregg sent in McIntosh's brigade (part of his division) which caught Hampton on the flank just as he was driving GAC's regiment back. That coupled with the 3d PA and 1st NJ hitting the other flank put paid to Stuart's attack. GAC played a large role but was under the command of another and acted upon his orders.
While Gregg was in charge, it was Custer giving most of the orders, and personally leading and managing all those attacks. Gregg could not have done this himself, and neither could many other Union cavalry brigade commanders of that time.
Gregg was very, very lucky that it was George Custer who AGREED to delay his orders to return to his commander and help Gregg out in that fight.
@conz...I consider Stuart's actions after taking over the Confederate left after Stonewall's wounding remarkable. Also his actions after taking over after Longstreet's wounding in the Wilderness and his holding action at Laurel Hill prevented Grant from flanking Lee's army after the Wilderness.
I fully agree. And I think he did this better than Custer may have in the same situation...hard to tell. But Stuart was a more senior Army officer...older and with more experience.
Also, without Buford's teaching the Union cavalry some professionalism, they would have still been running from the Southern cavalry. Also, if not for Buford's persistent scouting of the ANV on its march across PA, Meade likely would not have been able to concentrate his forces so rapidly.
I like to call John Buford (from Kentucky) the finest Dragoon officer in the service at that time (he has to fight with Kearny for the overall Army title <g>). I admire him greatly. But he was no Hussar.
He may have had as glorious a career as Custer if he had lived to enjoy that cavalry he help build up. Custer, Kilpatrick, Merritt, Devin, Wilson, et al, picked it up and ran with it.
Conz, I just want to point out to you that under GAC's tactical leadership roughly half of the regiment was killed in action. While you being a hussar may consider that a victory, I (and most rational people) don't.
It really depends upon what standards you set for a "victory." While I don't call LBH a victory, there are many battles won where you lose half your force but win the battle, and the war, eh?
What we criticize is =unnecessary= or unwarranted casualties in accomplishing your goal.
Now it IS expected that Hussars will get more of their men killed in rash actions...that comes with the risks necessary to being a scout or advance guard.
LaSalle, probably the poster child of all Hussars world-wide, said that any Hussar that out lived his 30s was a "blackguard."
HE set THAT standard. <g>
PS...so what statement do you consider "silly?" I'll clear it up for you. Personally, I don't find any silly statements...only misunderstandings.
Very few commanders ever had the opportunity to face numbers of warriors that a Custer did at LBH or a Crook at Rosebud. Officers serving in Apacheria would never have that chance. I don't know the numbers but I would nominate Ranald Mackenzie and the Fourth Cavalry. In terms of results he is second to none. He took command of the Fourth in 1870 and saw regular field service and combat (unlike Custer) until his promotion to brigadier general. His successes at Remolino (although the camp was mostly void of warriors) Palo Duro Canyon and Dull Knife were decisive victories. In addition he brought about the end of the simmering Ute war in 1881.
Too bad for Terry he didn't have Mack to send down the Rosebud valley on 22 June...
Your point I believe is not just who killed more Indians, if you take out the massacres Sand Creek, Washita, Wounded Knee. etc I don't think the cavalry killed too many Indians.
Well, my question was only comparing different Regular Army leaders. We could look at whether any leaders of civilians or militia were more effective at killing Warriors than the Army was, but I don't recall any that could compare.
I believe you are trying to see who the most effective cavalry officer was. To do that you must add into the equation, how many of his soldiers were lost.
That's a different question...the "cost effectiveness" of such damage inflicted. For now, I just want to see what Army officer damaged the Indians the most, by way of killing Warriors.
The thesis is that George Custer's direct commands killed more Warriors than any other leader's direct commands, in the entire history of warfare with the Indians. Now this would be quite a statement, IF true. Something not many students may realize. Love him or hate him, Custer's men killed a LOT, LOT, of Warriors. Probably more than any other leader and command could do.
My point is, who is the more effective officer, one who kills 300 of the enemy but looses 600 of his own, or one that kills 200 of the enemy but looses 50 of his own.
To be sure, but people rarely keep Hussars around for their "cost effectiveness." They want leaders who can destroy and kill things, period, without much regard to cost. This has a value when the job MUST be done. That is one reason they wanted Custer specifically for that summer's campaign. He had VALUE because of this trait. Custer was never famous for "sparing" his men, either in the Civil War or the Indian Wars. Yet he kept getting jobs done that nobody else could do...that was his value.
I have no idea who killed the most, but if this is another attempt to hold Custer up as an iconic figure I believe in fairness you must use both figures as a yardstick to do so.
I agree that we should look at leaders from many different angles. For your own personal judgment, you set your own standards for what is more important to you.
To Sheridan's or Terry's judgment as to who would be best for this situation, they may have a different standard...
If my statement doesn't make sense, forgive me I'm well into my cocktail hour 1/2 time of the game
Perfect sense, and a good addition to this study. You can evaluate leaders in many ways...pick the ones that you believe are most instructive, to you, or to understanding why these men did what they did.
Actually, one can make a very good case for considerably more soldiers dying while under Custer's command than Indians-- warriors, women, children, and those wishing to surrender before being cut down.
If you tally Custer's reported 103 at the Washita (the Cheyenne claimed 30 to 40, but what the hell do they know!), add in 20 during the Sully Expedition, you have 123 Indians. Custer lost 268, total, at the LBH. That is a difference of some 145 in the negative. Of course we must add in the Indians killed at the LBH, and you can quote all the pundits, all the so-called experts, all the Indian lore, all the wishful thinking you can dredge up and I still defy anyone to give me the names of more than 70 Indians killed at the LBH (I can name 63 off the top of my head... and so will anyone else, come March or April). Of course, too many people do not allow facts to sully their dreamworld, so the debate will continue to rage, but the bottom line here is a tally-sheet of 193 - 268. It only gets worse when we add PVT Tuttle from the Yellowstone battles and those killed at Washita... how many beside CPT Hamilton, Joel Elliott and his (16) gallant fools... so that alone brings the count to 186 - 287. That's a .393 winning percentage. Maybe we could up the percentage a bit if we added in Gall's wives and children... but then their names are lost to us, despite the heroism involved in chopping them up.
With his direct commands, do you mean under his direct command during the action or troops he commanded as being the acting commander of the regiment?
Yes...the ones where tactical leadership is indicated.
Also, as stated, my numbers encompass 1866-1877 for all regiments, despite your avoiding that statement to equivocate that the regiments I mentioned had decades more combat against the Indians.
I agree...need to find out if those engagements were under the same tactical leader to see if any officer commanded in actions that killed more Warriors than others.
Personally, I think your statement, "But at this point, I'll look for anything that might better Custer's record against the Indians" pretty much states your method of research.
Right...propose a thesis that looks correct on the surface, and find anything that will refute, or modify, it. Pretty standard research method, isn't it?
Let's look at facts. GAC directly commanded four actions: Washita, the two events on the Yellowstone, and LBH. His Washita report states something to the effect of 110 Indians killed at Washita. I figure 10-20 in the Yellowstone battles. How many do you figure were killed at LBH?
I accept Greene's figure that probably 40 Warriors were killed at Washita. You might stretch that to 60 if you count wounded Warriors that escaped but died in the days and weeks following, which would be typical.
In the two Yellowstone battles probably a couple dozen Warriors were killed, or died of wounds...this is a very hard number to get due to the nature of those actions, but seems reasonable by the fight descriptions (never the inflated after action reports <g>).
At LBH I offer a LOW estimate of 120 Warriors killed, with half being on the field of battle, and the rest in the days and weeks following. Some may want to use a low figure of 60 killed, which I think is pretty silly, or 200 killed, which is more probable a number than 60, by historical evidence.
So 40+24+120 = 184, as a theoretical target for comparison to the results of other command's enemy KIA results.
Also, let's look at the converse: GAC was reponsible for killing more regular army soldiers than any other commander in the post ACW frontier period.
So, it's back to GAC, the aggressive, decent tactician, who procrastinated too long and lost his command, his life, and his reputation.
I agree...this study is not to show Custer as a "good" combat leader...just a deadly one. To his own men as well as the enemy, to be sure, but he was getting paid to damage the enemy.
And he seems to have done THAT better than any officer in the U.S. Army on the Plains, did he not? Regardless of whatever else you think of him!
Gotcha...I'm just pointing out that simply losing more men than the other guy doesn't make the leader a failure. Perhaps many great military leaders in history lost more of their own men in combat than they actually killed of the enemy on battlefields.
Now I DO consider Custer a "failure" at LBH because of unnecessary losses by his regiment.
But overall, I certainly rate Custer's tactical results over his career as a great success story. The huge tragedy at the end only makes that more poignant.
And that is most of what Whittaker is saying in his book, as well. They he goes on to point fingers at those that contributed to Custer's final failure is merely a footnote to his efforts to document Custer's history.