Kanipe's Ride to the Pack Train Nov 19, 2011 17:52:54 GMT -5
Post by keogh on Nov 19, 2011 17:52:54 GMT -5
I've noticed that shift, too, and been puzzled by it. At the RCOI, Moylan testified that Custer's 5 companies had been divided into two battalions: one with 3 companies under Keogh, the other with 2 companies under Yates. However, most theories in the first century after the battle that I've seen assumed that Custer's 5 companies operated as a single group. I think the change occurred in the early 1990s, with the publication of Gray's "Custer's Last Campaign" and Fox's "Archeology, History and Custer's Last Battle." Both posit a two-battalion configuration matching Moylan's testimony, and both were very influential books. Since then, it seems that the majority of theories assume the 5 companies were split into two battalions, though the exact composition varies from theory to theory.
As you point out Kitz, there is definite evidence pointing to Custer's division of his command into two battalions. Moylan makes this very clear in both his RCOI testimony and in a private letter he wrote to Fred Calhoun a few days after the battle. In his letter, Moylan describes Custer dividing his command at the divide into 4 attack battalions of 3 companies each. Custer's own command, according to Moylan's letter, was as follows:
Keogh's Battalion: I, C & B
Yates: F, E & L
Since Keogh was officer of the day on June 25th, and technically in charge of the rear guard -- a practice Custer had followed throughout the campaign -- McDougall's B Co was detached as the single company in charge of the rear guard, leaving Keogh with a squadron of I & C. This was the configuration Custer used for his right wing since the very start of the campaign. Moylan's RCOI testimony referring to Keogh's 3 company battalion was made as a result of examining the Custer battlefield on the 27th. From the observation of the dead troops, it was clear that Keogh ended up with a 3 company battalion on Battle Ridge. This only occurred, imo, after Custer detached L Co to hold Calhoun Hill as Keogh's squadron came up from Ford B onto Battle Ridge. It was only then that L Co came under Keogh's direct control.
But yes, it is strange how so many battle students missed this obvious division of Custer's 5 companies for so many years. The primary source evidence for it has always been there.