If you are forced into slow moving "squares" by a more numerous and more mobile enemy that won't fight at night, you logger up under the sun, and move under the moon.
This is NOT any Civil War tactic, I assure you. <g> It is a tactic used frequently in military history, though, as against the Huns, Mongols, or Saracens.
One interesting technique is to light a bonfire, and then you can travel, day or night, with that fire (night) or smoke (day) as a landmark in an otherwise featureless plain.
Some students believe that the Army was using Civil War tactics inappropriately on the Plains, but I don't see that at all in my research of their actions. I don't see many Civil War tactics at all...not even the formations are much like the Civil War units.
The Army's orders, formations, combat techniques, even weaponry, are quite specific to the frontier mission out West, and it doesn't look much like the Civil War actions or activity at all, to my perspective.
This is an intelligent, adaptive, and independent Army of small units out there.
Ran across this gem in a Russian cavalry officer's memoirs:
“When we encountered strong German resistance, we would get off our horses and fight as infantry, while the grooms (there were about ten per squadron) would gather our horses and take them to a safe spot. It was only if the Germans panicked and fled that we charged with sabers. During two years of fighting in a cavalry regiment, I only saw some five charges. However, all these charges followed the same pattern. A cavalry regiment would advance on horseback in several echelons. If the point encountered a pocket of German resistance – a garrison in a village, a delaying force, or a fortified line – the riders dismounted and fought on foot like regular infantry. If they could not break the German line, one of the forward squadrons would arrive to assist them. In the meantime, other squadrons would try to bypass the pocket of resistance and break the Germans by a sudden assault from the flank or rear. As soon as the enemy lost his nerve and started to withdraw, all riders would mount their horses and pursue, slashing with sabers and riding on till the next pocket of resistance.” - Ivan Yakushin in On the Roads of War
Cavalry tactics haven't changed much since Civil War days, eh? Can you see a reflection of the above action by Russian cavalry officers in Custer's, and his officer's, choice of tactics?
Thanks for that...I ordered a copy for XMAS for my best friend, a cavalry colonel that likes to ride with me wearing Sam Browne Belt era uniforms. Although I'm not sure his Arabian charger is going to like the "horsemanship for fat warhorses" methodology. <g>
Ran across this in my morning studies that y'all might appreciate:
"Gen'l Nicholson took a aggressive approach, using his units like an accordion. In the summer and fall, they spread out in the river valley, in February they collapsed on Marja, and now they were spreading out again.
"Once Marja settled down, he sent troops to remote Delaram, 100 kilometers to the west. Wherever the Taliban went to regroup, Nicholson attacked, a technique harkening back to General Crook in the Indian Wars."
"While there was some staff criticisms in Kabul about violating the precept of population protection, Nicholson was unperturbed."
Ironically, the BEST situation for the cavalry to inflict casualties on the Warriors is to set up a defense and have them attack YOU. But cavalry formations could rarely hope that the Warriors would accomodate them such.
Of course, this backfires badly if your defense is bad...
COIN operations, 29 October 1849, near Fort Kearny, Nebraska...
CPT Chilton, B Company, 1st Dragoons, learns of a party of Pawnees camping south of the fort on a stream. He sends out a patrol to capture them, so as to induce the local chiefs to come in for a peace conference in preparation of keeping the trail open for travellers to California next spring.
The Soldiers were able to sneak up close and surround the Pawnee party of a half dozen Warriors, but they broke and ran instead of surrendering, and the Soldiers shot one, then the Pawnees returned fire and killed the Sergeant, and another Pawnee was killed before the others escaped.
March 1853: Regiment of Mounted Rifles vs. Comanches...
Michno: "In early 1853 Lt. Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte, cousin of the Emperor of France, was leading Company F, Mounted Rifles [later the 3rd U.S. Cavalry] in a series of scouts south of the Neuces River...a party of Comanches crept into camp and stole three picketed horses from under the noses of the two guards. A detachment of eight men took up the raiders' trail...
"After an eighteen-mile pursuit, the Riflemen entered a pretty rolling valley containing a water hole...The Comanches ahd just finished resting and were mountin gup when the soldiers galloped in. After a short, sharp fight, the Indians scattered. One Rifleman was severly wounded, and three Indians were killed. The soldiers recaptured the three stolen horses and rode away with about eight Indian ponies in the bargain."
Last Edit: Dec 19, 2012 2:38:23 GMT -5 by moderator
"Company F recieved word that Comanches had attacked a ranch about five miles away. The Indians had killed a man and two children and driven off severeal head of cattle and horses...twelve soldiers followed the trail to the river, where they found about thirty Comanches in the process of carrying across the goods they had just plundered from San Ygnacio...
"Mutually surprised, both sides raised yells as the twelve riflemen charged into the Indians. In a fight of about five or six minutes, two soldiers were hit while three Indians fell. the Comanches then plunged into the river and swam for the Mexican short. LT Granger ordered the detachment to dismount and take aim with their rifles. The soldiers hit several more Indians in the water. After one warrior was hit on the bank and rolled twenty feet down to the river's edge, two of his companions went down to get him. Seeing this, William Wright ceased fire, considering the Indians' rescue attempt a noble endeavor...
"The Indians left many animals as well as equipment on the far bank...soldiers volunteered to swim across and recover what they could. under cover of the other riflemen, the men succeeded in bringing back thirty horses, six mules, various stolen items, and some of the Indians' abandoned belongings....Wright was promoted to Corporal.
Last Edit: Oct 5, 2015 11:45:32 GMT -5 by moderator
After the 5 May 1854 Lake Trinidad Battle between Companies F and I of the Mounted Rifles and the Lipan Apaches, Corporal William Wright took over the patrol from the wounded LT Cosby. He "took his new command, now numbering about twenty men, and followed the Indians trail south until it came upon the Lipan camp along Arroyo Baluarte...As Wright barreled into the Indians, the scene became a jumble of shots, curses, and the swirling bright colors of caparisoned horses and Indians. Wright's horse, ominously named Death, was struck by a bullet and killed, throwing the Corporal to the ground. An Indian rode up to dispatch him, but Wright shot the warrior as well as his horse...
"After a few short minutes, the Lipans rode away into the chaparral, leaving behind four dead and taking with them about six wounded. Six soldiers were wounded, including one man who received a severe tomahawk blow to the head. Corporal Wright led his ragged detachment back to Fort Merrill. Both Wright brothers' terms of enlistment ended in October 1855, and neither had any desire to renew their service in the Army."
June 1864...an incident from the Sully expedition...
"Sully ordered CPT Nelson Miner to take a dozen of his Dakota Cavalrymen and go after the Indians a recon party that ambushed a Captain at a stream]. After an eight-mile chase through gullies and over hills, Miner cornered the three warriors on foot in a buffalo wallow. Miner's troopers made short work of them, shouting 'Death to the murderers!' as the riddled them with bullets. Miner took the Indians' weapons as trophies, but Gen'l Sully asked for more. Returning to the scene with Miner, SGT Benjamin Estes decaptitated the three warriors with a butcher knife, placed the heads in a gunny sack, and brought them back to Sully. The general ordered SGT Abner M. English 'to hand the heads on poles on the hightest hill as a warning to all Indians who might travel that way."
Last Edit: Oct 5, 2015 11:46:18 GMT -5 by moderator
Spillman Creek Raids, Kansas...Tall Bull's Cheyenne Dog Soldiers...sets up the 7th Cavalry's attitude toward their enemy over the next few years:
- During the last week of May, 1869, Cheyennes killed fourteen civilians in north-central Kansas. On Sunday 30 May they rode down Spillman Creek, northwest of Lincoln. - Tall Bull with 60 Warriors first killed Eli Zeigler and John Alverson, who were attacked as they headed up the creek to examine an abandoned farm. - Near the town of Denmark, a couple out tending their garden, Eskild Lauritzen and his wife Stine, were quickly killed, then stripped and scalped. A houseguest of the Lauritzens, Otto Peterson, took off running, but he was soon caught and killed. - The Cheyennes next came upon three immigrants, also guests of the Lauritzens, who were out inspecting a possible farmstead. The two men, Fred Meigherhoff and George Weichel, fired at the Indians as they and George's wife, Maria, fled south along Spillman Creek. They made it about two miles before they ran out of ammunition. The pursuiting Indians quickly killed the men and captured Maria, who was described as a beautiful twenty-year-old. - A mile further, was the Michael Healy homestead, where Susanna Alderdice and her four children, along with a Mr. and Mrs. Noon, a Mr. Whalen, and Bridget Kine and her daughter, had been staying. When they heard shooting, at about 6 p.m., the Noons and Mr. Whalen quickly made their escape on horseback, leaving the rest of the women and children behind. The abandoned women tried to escape with their youngsters to the thick brush along the Saline River. Clutching her two-month-old daughter, Bridget waded across the river, hiding in the brush on the opposite side. But Susanna, herding her four small children, could not keep up. The
The Cheyennes caught Susanna about fifty yards from the river. She sat down, holding her two youngest children, two-year-old Frank and eight-month-old Alice. The Indians shot down five-year-old John with four bullets and put five arros into Frank, then bashed him against the ground. They shot four-year-old Willis with five arrows and two bullets, then wpeared him in the back. For some reason they let Susanna keep baby Alice.
- Another mile down the Saline, the Cheyennes saw two fourteen-year-old boys, Arthur Schmutz and John Strange. The Indians told the boys they were 'good' Pawnees, and a young warrior approached the two. When he was close enoough, the Indian smashed his war club into Strange's head. They boy uttered "Oh Lordy" before he fell dead. Schmutz took off running, but an arrow hit him in the side, piercing his lung. Somehow he kept running, pulling out the shaft. As he fled, two of his borthers, who had heard the commotion and hurried out with rifles, appeared. The Indians retreated. Young Schmutz was taken to Fort Harker for treatment, but he died about ten weeks later.
- At the end of that day, the Cheyennes camped on the south side of the Saline near Bullfoot Creek. Coincidentally, they were only about two miles up from the campsite of Lt. Edward Law and his Company G, Seventh Cavalry, who were unaware of the raids until the next day. Upon hearing the news, the soldiers pursued the raiders, but they got away.
- Incredibly, when Seventh Cavalry soldiers and some civilians found four-year-old Willis Alderdice the following day, he was still alive. The arrowheads in his body were all removed, including one lodged five inches into his chest. Willis was raised by Susanna's parents and lived until 1920.
- Three days after Susanna Alderdice's capture, the Indians, perhaps tired of little Alice's crying, took the baby from her mother and strangled her, hanging the limp body in a tree. Susanna Alderdice and Maria Weichel remained captives until 11 July, when Major Carr [5th Cavalry] caught up with Tall Bull at Summit Springs, Colorado Territory. Just moments before the rescue, Susanna was tomahawked and shot dead. Maria was shot in the chest, but she survived. She later recounted her horrific ordeal as a captive.
Just to set the stage for attitudes and behaviors of Soldiers and Indians in our area of interest.
Gen'l Miles sent the reliable Lt. Frank D. Baldwin, 5th Infantry, and three scouts, Lem Wilson, Harry Wing, and William F. Schmalsle, out from his comp [to send for supplies from Camp Supply in Indian Territory]. After a night's camp, in the dawn's red light, an Indian appeared only fifty yards away. The messengers shot him down, perhaps realizing too late that the shots would draw attention to their hideout. Before long, a number of warriors surrounded their position.
Baldwin ordered his men to mount up and break out, and the unexpected charge startled the Indians. The lieutenant and his three scouts rode to higher ground, dismounted, and set up a small defensive perimeter. From there they drove the encroaching warriors back with accurate fire - Wing's 'Sporting Rifle' was particularly effective. When the warriors had had enough, they took off, leaving Baldwin and the scouts to continue their journey north. Baldwin was convined that they had killed or wounded at least eight Indians. He reported that his party had all acted as calmly as if they were 'shooting buffalo,' but the fight was 'one of the most desperate skirmishes I ever participated in.'
Even after the Indian defeat coming out of the Little Bighorn campaign, there was still some small troubles to be policed up, but the Army was pretty good at this...
8 Mar 1880 on Rosebud Creek, Montana:
In early February of 1880, Lakotas began raiding along the Yellowstone and Tongue Rivers, and several military scouts left Fort Keogh to hunt for them. On 8 March Lt. Samuel W. Miller, with seventeen soldiers from Company E of the Fifth Infantry and some Indian guides, picked up a trail west of the Rosebud River. They followed it until they came upon a Lakota camp about thirty miles west of the river, in the vicinity of Sharpy Creek.
Miller attacked the camp and killed three Lakotas and eight ponies, but the majority of the band got away with most of the stolen horses. Before escaping the Indians killed two soldiers and wounded one, leaving a frustrated Miller with little to do but burn the camp and return to Fort Keogh.
He sent news of the encounter to Lt. Frank Baldwin, who was on the north side of the Yellowstone. Moving in, Baldwin was able to pick up the Lakotas' trail and recover the rest of the horses.
Except for the Hancock and Washita expeditions, the 7th had companies spread all over Kansas from Camp Beecher, Fort Harker, Fort Larned, Fort Hays/Camp on Big Creek, Fort Dodge, Fort Wallace, and even Fort Lyon in Colorado. Benteen commanded Fort Harker for a while in 68 and was at Camp Beecher when he moved to counter the attack by NAs up on the Saline River. Capt. West had K company at Camp Beecher (present day Wichita) and commanded it from June 11, 1868 to September 68 and Capt. had K company there from May 20, 1869 to June 69.
During the winters, they had troops staying at Leavenworth and Riley as well.
They were then spread all over the south and later the Dakota Territory except for the summer expeditions.
This tends to put the bulk of the training in command by the company commanders.
Yes, as it should be. Company commanders train companies, not battalion or regimental commanders.
My point is that companies OFTEN, not rarely, came together either as squadrons or battalions, and sometimes even for large summer campaigns. During these periods, there was PLENTY of time for the higher level tactics of battalion and regimental maneuver. How much training above company level does a unit need? Not very much, and I think the 7th Cavalry had plenty of it at any time during its existence.
I see no cause for concern over the amount of time the 7th Cavalry (or any regiment out there) had for battalon and above maneuvers. The only time they needed it was for the large campaigns, and they had WEEKS to practice as they prepared and marched out on those maneuvers.
I am not a military person and know little of tactics but I believe some of you folk are military and familiar with cavalry tactics. I have read a few instances of the dismounted troopers forming a skirmish line .. Reno in the valley fight, Maybe Keough, and I think on Weir Peaks Edgerly or Frech?
Could someone explain just what a skirmish line is. When would troopers be ordered to form one? An offensive or defensive tactic?
Apologies if names/places are not right, I'm still trying to figure all this out.
I also have some geographic questions. Is this a good place to post them or are there separate areas devoted to this info?