Post by majorsimon on Apr 14, 2008 14:01:31 GMT -5
Off and on, I've studied the campaign for years. Last summer I visited the battlefield in person and this coming summer, as a member of the Theodore Roosevelt Association which is hosting an event in Medora, ND, I will be taking a group to the Battlefield for an optional day trip. Some great discussions on this site.
Question. As to the blow-by-blow, while I've looked at the graphics and discussions here, is there any one resource that lays out the collapse of the various companies as the Indians put increasing pressure from the SW (Crazy Horse mounted racing up one ravine) and Lame White man, (with the so-called "suicide boys" on foot probably coming up the ravine just SW of CH's.
Thanks. I intend to walk the ground this summer for a few days before my group shows up and I wanted to see what members thought, book-wise and web-site wise. Also the continuing debate on whether Benteen with Weir "really" could have come to Custer's aid.
Welcome to our forum, Simon. There are many books devoted to the study of the battle, however, few researchers agree on how Custer's 5 Companies met their demise. All researchers are in agreement that Lame White Man's attack came from Deep Ravine on the west side of battle ridge, but Crazy Horse's attack is in dispute. While some here, including our own Conz, believe that CH also attacked from the west side of Battle Ridge, others, including myself, are convinced that CH led his attack from the east side of Battle Ridge (based on the account given by White Bull). So you have your choice at the moment. lol. There are many good books on the battle to recommend. The latest one that does a comprehensive analysis of the battle is one that a good number are reading right now. Its called 'A Terrible Glory' by James Donovan. I have not read it myself, but I have heard some good reviews of it from battle researchers who have read it. A shorter booklet which might be more suitable for your needs as a battlefield tourguide would be The Osprey booklet entitled "Little Big Horn: 1876" by Peter Panzieri. Its got an assortment of color maps and an excellent description of the basic tactics and movement of Custer's 5 companies that day, although it was written long before the more recent knowledge arose regarding Custer's move to the north ford with Yates Battalion (north of the National Cemetery). Here's a link to the book: search.barnesandnoble.com/Little-Big-Horn-1876/Peter-Panzieri/e/9781855324589/?itm=1
If you have any other questions, feel free to post them and we will do our best to provide an answer (or answers).
"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 two hours, for the order that never came."
Even only a quarter of the way through it, I can't recommend the Donovan book enough! It's well-written and easy to read--somebody said it read like a novel--and provides a detailed overview, including all the political stuff leading up to LBH, and some short biographical sketches of various people. Somebody who has finished it has described it as a great starter book, and I totally agree. I have a friend who is completely new to the subject who is also reading it, and I will get his opinion as well when he's done.
Lakota Noon is also excellent, and I had the privilege of reading it while at the battlefield, so I could actually look at the places that were being discussed. But it is an extremely complicated book to read, at least for me, because I had to keep paging back to the maps about every paragraph. It's a great book for total immersion, but not as good for initiating newcomers.
I have met a park ranger who says that when he transfers from park to park, he starts out by reading kid books on the subject at hand, to get a quick overview. Simon, if you are well-versed in the battle and have done a lot of reading, you might want to put together a suggested reading list of your favorites for your group, ranked in order from stone beginner on up.
Post by majorsimon on Apr 24, 2008 21:48:47 GMT -5
Thanks for your thoughts - Hey, I've recently read "A Terrible Glory" by James Donovan and guess what. It REALLY looks like he has visited this site and accepted Conz's theory of the collapse of Keogh including his sending 40 or so Company E soldiers charging down the hill. I intend to ask him how much YOUR web site influenced HIS analysis. He DID make extensive use of Indian accounts and the book is heavily footnoted. I will definitely take you up on Lakota Nation. As a retired US Marine Artillery officer, I definitely have a terrain-oriented view when approaching these things. Last summer, when I visited the Battlefield with my twin brother, who is a Marine and a History teacher in Miami and a real Custer enthusiast, I didn't really have enough appreciation for LWM's role and blandly accepted the long assertion that CH "must" have attacked ONLY from the North-west. Have any of you watched that 5 part series of bullet and shell casing analysis by Dr. Fox and others that is on You Tube? It is really excellent. Is there a place to post photos here. I'm actually driving to the Battlefield from Vancouver, WA, just across the E-W Columbia River from Portland. If anyone wants any specific photos taken from any particular angle, please let me know. I intend to spend July 9th there on my own going over those ravines (called draws in the US military) and taking a real close look at the path that slower (on foot) route that LWM might have taken thru the so-called "deep ravine" as opposed to CH. Also, White Bull's account is quite informative. As I told my brother, if one chief attacking from the South-West tells of soldiers fleeing from his right-to-left (i.e. to the Northwest) and another chief such as Yellow Nose, (who was attacking from the South-east) describes soldiers running directly away from him (which would ALSO be to the NW) then these 2 accounts certainly mutually reinforce each other, i.e. the soldiers CERTAINLY must have been running to the NW. It are these kinds of analyses that make the study of both the particpating Indian accounts as well as the battlefield archeology quite interesting. Also this question of whether Custer, himself, personall, went down to MTC-Ford B and even got wounded there! Thanks for the stimulating ideas. I will actually show those 5 segments of the archeological discussion with Dr. Fox and the ballistics experts in the 1 hour ride from Billings down to GarryOwen, where we will start our Battlefield walk-thru. Anyone been there in July 10th time period? It could be a real SCORTCHER!
Post by majorsimon on Apr 24, 2008 21:59:14 GMT -5
Also - What do you think of the book, "Where Custer Fell," by James S. Brust, Brian Pohanka, and Sandy Barnard and which is publishe by the University of Oklahoma Press? Had Brust or Barnard posted here? Mr. Pohanka is deceased but did he ever post here?
I'll just miss you--I'll be there for the anniversary, as a "trail guide"--the LBH term for docent.
This forum has only been up since the beginning of the year, so I'm afraid Brian Pohanka never had the opportunity to post on it, but I sure wish he had. I never had the privilege of communicating with him myself, but I understand he was very generous with his internet time.
Where Custer Fell is another one to have with you on the battlefield--very useful for getting a good idea of who did what where.
Brian is the fault I'm on these damn forums...he and I spent years going back and forth with a great crew on an old CompuServe Civil War forum concerning various CW battles. He kept referring me over to LBH and the LBHA...about ten or twelve years ago, now. He also was a keen student of the Boer Wars in South Africa, and used a lot of references to those actions to help explain/understand issues of combat in that day.
It was Brian that turned me onto two key modeled events of Custer's demise: a C Co charge off Battle Ridge area to Greasy Grass, which precipitated Keogh's destruction, and a CH/LWM charge out of Deep Ravine that exploited that mistake.
Definitely buy yourself a copy of Where Custer Fell ... learn it. Live it. Be it. What I find particularly wonderful about this manuscript is that it provides a top to bottom, tip to tail tour of the battlefield: from Reno's charge to the action on Last Stand Hill, in the order each event happened. I know a lot of folks do think the NPS is a bit ungraceful when it comes to a visual/physical presentation of the battle. You enter the place where the battle ended--if you only count LBH as all-Custer, all the time--and kind of proceed backwards ....
The narrative is quite tight and it doesn't seem to embrace any agenda. I must have recommended Where Custer Fell a million times last year whilst I worked LSH for the Friends! When I made my way back to the air conditioning of the visitors' centre, people who had seen me atop Last Stand Hill then prodded me for even more recommendations. Both WCF and Lakota Noon enjoyed nice sales those two afternoons. The NPS workers were impressed ... of course, I did have to let on that I used to be a bookstore manager.
My only problem with WCF is its rather awkward size. It isn't easy to carry about on the battlefield.
Dine - Thanks for your points. Actually, in my battlefield tour, what I propose to do is do the tour this way. 1. Start at the private Museum at GarryOwen which is east of and across the main highway, the N-S interstate from the point where Reno's companies dismounted, i.e, as far towards the Indian Village that they got. From there we'll drive on to the park and drive all the way end of the to the NW to SE-running road to the point where 2. Reno-Benteen's companies dug in and fought. From there we'll drive back NW toward 3. Weir Point and show them the most NW point that Captain Weir got with his attempt to go to the relief of Custer. From there, we'll continue to drive NW toward 4. Calhoun Hill, we'll talk about the probable charge of Company C as ordered by Keogh to drive the Indians down toward the river. We'll explain that this probably gave Crazy Horse the opening he needed to drive up on the ridge line heading in an almost northerly direction, right behind and to the REAR of Company C as he headed straight for Keogh's guidons. Keogh might have, himself, led Company C down the hill (like heading down the left side of the letter "V" but seeing Crazy Horse going behind him to his right and rear, he probably quickly turned 60 degree left turn and ran right up the right side of that same "V" where he was attacked from his right by both Yellow Nose and Gall and the remnants of probably half of C streamed continue toward Calhoun Hill even as otthers broke to their left and tried to rejoin and others of up over the Company I even as Company L was being overun to their right. In short, it is all beginning to jell. I found an Indian account by White Bull at www.astonisher.com/archives/museum/white_bull_little_big_horn.html where describes the battle that fits almost PERFECTLY with the ConZ model. White Bull says he saw 4 companies instead of 5 but that was, I figure, only because Keogh kept Company I and L largely together. Here's my take on White Bull's account. White Bull's 1st Company is Company C. His 2nd Company is the combined I & L and White Bull's 3rd Company Compan is Tom Custer's Company F (probably with Gen Custer, himself, and finally, White Bull's 4th Company which he describes as having Gray's is Company E. Check out his account and see for yourself, if it almost perfectly matches the ConZ analysis. It even accounts for 2 panic runs to the Deep Ravine. In the 1st run, surviving members of Company E, who White Bull called the 4th Company finally race desperately down hill (faster and easier to run downhill) right into the (apparent but false) "escape" of the Deep Ravine and are rubbed out. White Bull recalls seeing a second group from the 3rd Company ( this would be the last men of F Company on Last Stand Hill, also, knowing that remaining is to die (and by my analysis, already seeing both military Custers dead, (falsely, in my estimation) also breaking out of Last Stand Hill and running down toward the SAME Deep Ravine. I suspect that some of them must of assumed that some of E Company might have actually gotten away, not knowing that there was a dead end at the south end of that Ravine. They met the SAME fate as the original group from Company E who had run down into that gultch also faced. Anyway, I think this accounts for almost all of ConZ's analysis. Read White Bull's account and let me know if my identification of his 4 companies, matches yours! Thanks.
My only caveat is that I believe that =probably= (no way to know for sure) the E Co movement many describe as an attempt to flee is actually a charge by E Co to try to stem the Natives coming up Deep Ravine towards Keogh.
I figure that by the time Custer was in position on Custer Hill with F Co (and E Co firing towards Greasy Grass ridge from the cemetery area), C Co was already gone and I and L Cos were in a dense melee where the bodies are found.
If I were Custer and saw most of the Native attention on Keogh at that point, I would have F Co fire towards the Keogh fight from Custer Hill and send E Co on a maneuver charging south to relieve Keogh, but it "fell" into the deep gorge and was swamped by Warriors in the draws around there.
I can't tell if this charge was mounted or dismounted...I find Native descriptions of both. Probably it began as a standard mounted charge but was shot down by the many Warriors in the area when it was forced to halt due to that damned gorge. I also believe that most of the descriptions of the grey horses galloping about is the end results of this charge as the horses get loose. I believe that the infamous "suicide boys" were part of the group that "countercharged" E Co, probably from the rear...ala "chasing them," and their episode happened in the "south skirmish line" and deep gorge area just WSW of Custer Hill.
As far as I've been able to decipher, anyway!
Some other thoughts as you "wargame" this...
What brought Custer back from his move on Ford D? Very possibly the huge crescendo of noise caused by the C Co attack and counter-charge. By the time Custer got back to Custer Hill, L Co was probably already moving off Calhoun Hill to get over to Keogh.
Very possibly as E Co was making its dive into the deep gorge, CPT Weir was moving his company across the Wier area hills...Weir himself may have been to his hill early enough to see Keogh still alive, for his last few minutes.