Great discussion....just q quick question. What is the distance between the Rosebud Battlefield and Terry's depot at the Bighorn/Yellowstone junction? What was the distance that would have had to have been traveled if a message was sent from Crook to Terry?
I didn't check that but the Powder River depot near Terry, Montana to the Bighorn junction on the Jellystone is about 125 miles, more or less, if Terry would have traveled down Interstate 94 along the river.
I'd estimate about a 100 miles by carrier pigeon from the Rosebud battlefield to Terry at the Powder River Depot. With southerly prevailing winds of 15 mph average, Crook's smoke signals could have gotten to Terry in about 7 hours, if he would have sent some.
Figuring dispatch riders would have moved east a little and then north to the Jellystone, and then move up to the depot, I'd approximate about 150-175 miles depending on how far they went. Roughly 2 to 3 days ride for dispatch riders with important news of a battle. As I recall, Custer didn't hit the Tongue till around the 20th/21st. Messengers probably would have linked up with Gibbon, the Far West, or Custer/Terry within a couple days or so.
I checked and the distance as the crow flies from the Rosebud National Battlefield (Busby, Montana) to Bighorn, Montana - roughly the junction of the Yellowstone and the Big Horn Rivers..... is approximately 96 miles give or take........
Cavalry during the Civil war would travel up to 40 miles a day when pushed. So it is not out of the question to assume that there could have been communication between Crook and Terry?
Does anyone know what the standing orders were for Crook? Was he to connect with Terry or just close the southern door and prevent the natives from escaping? Was there an expectation of communication? I would think that a man with Crooks' reputation would have wanted the information about the native activities at the Rosebud to get to his commanding officer?
Crook's commanding officer was Sheridan, not Terry. Both Crook and Terry were Dept. commanders; each of their commands were expected to operate on their own and to be able to handle whatever number of hostiles they encountered. These two did meet up in August; Crook cordially yielded to Terry's seniority though must have chaffed at having to be subordinate to a man with no Indian fighting experience. The cadre of newspapermen with Crook commented on the contrast in the commands and the men; Crook's rugged ruffian looking troops compared to Terry's comfort obsessed bunch with carpeted tents and what not.
Although some fault Crook for his lack of aggressivness, I'm sure Rosebud George would beg to differ. He was the first to take the field in March and between then and September his troops fought three of the four major engagements as well as a few skirmishes. Twice he attacked villages and was on his way to one at Rosebud where he fought a hard fight, the biggest battle of the war in terms of numbers. Contrast to Terry, who's men fought only one battle the entire summer. Crook also had to see to the disposition and disarming of the surrendering bands trickling into the Spotted Tail and Red Cloud agencies. He wanted to stay in the field with a base in the Black Hills (in Terry's dept.) but Sheridan called off the campaign in favor of winter operations, in which Crook again to the field, remaining out into December. This of course culiminated in the Dull Knife battle commanded by Mackenzie, another attack on a village, the fourth time of the war if you include LBH.
Maybe Crook had the right idea; those Indians will go back to the agencies when they get hungry enough. Less hostiles in the field. Just fought a hard fight; relax, fish, hunt, let men and animals recover and enjoy the beautiful Big Horns....
I doubt either man ever intended to "link up" with the other. You couldn't send messengers because the country was unknown basically and because no one knew where the other was headed. The Yellowstone became a life-line between Terry and Gibbon and messages were sent to and fro along its length. Even so, it took days for one man to get word to another.
It's a shame: neither man thought to use their AN/PRC-10s.
I haven't been abe to find the orders issued to Terry and Crook in the most likely books in my collection..
Sheridan, in his annual report, describes them, and Terry and Crook, in their reports confirm Sheridan.
Terry and Crook began to gather information on the whereabouts of the Indians before the Dept of the Interior handed the problem off to the War Department. This information went to Sheridan. Sheridan got the go ahead order from Sherman on 7 Feb.
According to Sheridan, "No specific directions could be given, as no one knew exactly, and no one could have known exactly, were these Indians were. as they might be here to-day and somewhere else to-morrow."
On 8 Feb, Sheridan transmitted what he had received from Washington to Terry and Crook, and informed each Department commander about where the other would be operating and that Department boundries would be "disregarded."
Terry was told that Crook would be coming from the south toward the headwaters of the Powder River, Pumpkin Buttes, Tongue River, Rosebud, and Big Horn Rivers. It's not clear what Sheridan told Crook about Terry's plans. Terry had originally been aiming for the Little Missouri, but had just received information that Sitting Bull'd band was on the Dry Fork of the Missouri. Crook would be further informed of Terry's movements by Sheridan's HQ.
Terry's and Crook's movements, as Sheridan reported he told them, "would be made without concert, as the Indian villages are movable and no objective point could be fixed upon, but that, if they should come to any understanding about concerted movements, there would be no objection at division headquarters."
The above is form Sheridan's report and it does not necessarily represent the exact wording of what Sheridan called the "paper" he sent to Terry and Crook.
Re: Supply bases
Crook began his 2nd advance from Ft Fetterman on 29 May and arrived at Goose Creek, where he established his supply base, on 8 Jun. From there he began a 4 day scout on 16 Jun that resulted in the Battle of the Rosebud the next day.
Terry originally established a supply depot at Stanley's stockade on the Yellowstone near Glendive Creek. Terry shifted the base with its guard to the mouth of the Powder River before the Dakota Column reached it. On 10 Jun, Maj Reno started his scout from a camp on the Powder River about 20 miles from the river mouth. The rest of the column moved down to the Yellowstone on 11 Jun and encamped near the depot.
So Terry and Crook had bases established at about the same time.
Direct communications between Terry's and Crook's commands were considered a very dangerous thing.
The Dakota Column used scouts to carry mail and dispatches to Ft Lincoln where there was a telegraph office. Crook I'm sure sent his dispatched to Ft Fetterman which also had its own telegraph office.
After the LBH Terry moved his command across the Yellowstone near the mouth of the Big Horn River. From there he decided to send a message to Crook.
Most if not all of the Indian scouts had disappeared by this time. Terry offered a $1000.00 to the man who carried his dispatches. Herendeen thought the offer was $500.00 short. Another man tried twice, at a bargin rate, but failed.
Terry asked for volunteers from the 7th Inf. 12 men volunteered and 3, Pvts Evans, Stewart, and Bell of Co E, were chosen. They were given cavalry mounts, instructions, field glasses, and maps and they wore moccasins. Each man carried a copy of Terry's dispatch sewn into the lining of his jacket. They and an escort were ferried across the Yellowstone on the evening of 9 Jul and started up Tullock's Creek. They left the escort about 12 miles up the creek. They reached Crook on the morning of the 12th.
By 17 Jul some Crow scouts had joined Terry and 4 were sent to Crook. They arrived the 19th. In the meantime Crook had tried and failed twice to send a courier through to Terry. In the end Crook sent Evans, Stewart, and the 4 Crows back to Terry with his dispatches. Bell's horse had died, and he stayed behind. They left Crook on the 23 Jul and reached Terry at a new camp on the 25th.
Evans, Stewart, and Bell each received the Medal of Honor.
Terry's letter to Crook dtd 9 Jul 1876 is in Overfield's "The Little Big Horn, 1876." Terry gave an account of the LBH and the losses, including the names of the officer casualties. He estimated the Indian force at 2400 warriors. He explained that he had to withdraw to refit, that the strength of the Indians was "unexpected," that when he moved he could move from any point on the Yellowstone.
He told Crook that if their forces came together, "I shall assume nothing by reason of my seniority, but shall be prepared to co-operate with you in the most cordial and hearty manner, leaving you entirely free to pursue your own course."
Terry said in his annual report that Crook's reply informed him of Crook's position and the position of the Indians.
Do you think that more than some of it may have been sort of competition with the other officers? Maybe wanting to make it so they had a better chance of glory (fame, promotion, etc.) for themselves so they tended not to cooperate as much as would be hoped for--held certain bits of information, plans, and ideas back from the others--just in case and opportunity presented itself? This was just the sort of thing GAC is often accused of.
1. Situation. As noted by RCH, Sheridan got a green light on 7 Feb 76, which led to his orders to Terry and Crook on 8 Feb 76. His concept of the operation involved 3 columns from 2 departments. He removed department boundaries as restrictions for his commanders, and left specifics to his departments.
2. Winter. Coordination between departments was weak. Crook had prepared beforehand, Terry had not. Crook launched a winter effort that led to the battle of the Powder River on 17 Mar 76. Tactical deficiencies led to the court martial of his ground force commander.
3. Summer. The main summer campaign is the one we are all familiar with. Gibbons, Crook and Custer/Terry led 3 columns. Following comments apply:
a. Synchronization remained a problem. Terry had to order Gibbon to wait for 3 weeks, since he had numerous delays launching the Custer column. Note that the normal reason given is bad weather. Since 2 of 3 columns did get out earlier in the same weather, this lacks explanatory power. Bad planning by Terry/Custer is a far more likely cause.
b. Quartermaster. The quartermaster department followed a civilian chain of command and were not under the command and control of the operational chain of command, even at Sherman's level. Nevertheless, the QM department did an effective job supporting this campaign.
c. Lines of Communication. (Note: this term does not mean signal communications, but more the logistical support network supporting a column). Railroads, rivers, stage lines, and telegraph lines form the basis for LOCs for this campaign. Terry had the easiest LOC based on river and rail support, then Gibbon, then Crook. Crook was operating without any natural line, which is why he was so dependent on wagons and mules.
Despite the great difficulty of operating in remote territory, each column effectively supported themselves until engagement. After an engagement, wounded men and horses, and resupply requirements required columns to fall back along their LOC.
This is an operational flaw/challenge in Sheridan's plan. After contact, columns would move away from enemy forces, but also away from the other friendly forces.
4. Enemy forces. Time was an important factor in this campaign. The longer it took for the campaign to start, the larger size of enemy forces. There are 2 factors to consider. First, the summer roamers became an increasing factor Apr-May. It would be interesting to consider size of force if main attack was delivered in late May. (See Grey, "Centennial Campaign") Second, the growth of grass sufficient to support horses/ponies starting in late April. Together this creates a true window of opportunity for US forces. The ideal timing for an attack would be after sufficient grass exists, and before the bulk of the summer roamers hit the main body. I think SHeridan had this concept in mind, with poor execution.
1. Situation. Gibbon had 6 infantry and 4 cavalry companies scattered in 4 posts. He had some unique challenges gathering his command for action. He gathered his forces quickly, and was able to launch Brisbin to rescue Fort Pease on 17 Mar 76.
2. Gibbon's Plan. He launched his forces down the river towards Terry. His mission was to prevent Indians fleeing to the north, and scout for Indians in zone.
3. Execution. Gibbon started 1 Apr 76. He was able to start so far ahead of Terry/Gibbon that Terry ordered him to halt for 3 weeks, 21 Apr to 9 May.
a. Tactical ability. Gibbon showed strong tactical skill. His organizations of movements, and logistical arrangements were superb. He organized an effective defensive camp with a circle of wagons in the center, then a ring of infantry, and cavalry on the flanks. He also conducted stand tos, where he got his entire comand up and ready for action an hour prior to dawn, to prevent dawn surprise attacks.
b. Failed river crossing. He did make an effort to attack a supposed enemy village on the other side of the river. This effort failed.
c. Bradley. There appears to be mistrust between Gibbon and Bradley. Gibbon did not appear to have confidence in data provided by Bradley. His reports to Terry did not include reports from Bradley. Bradley once insisted that all members of a patrol look at an enemy village. This indicates that he expected resistance from Gibbon from taking a report from Bradley alone.
d. Impact of Gibbon's "dawdling" on intelligence. The delay in transmitting data reflects poorly on Gibbons, but it really had no impact. The linkup with Terry/Custer put Terry in position with both friendly forces and intelligence to form the basis for his 2 pronged effort on the LBH.
e. Supporting effort. Gibbon's was never the main effort. As a primary infantry force, he lacked the mobility to chase down Indians. He had the smallest force. (Point to ponder: Infantry did not have a pistol for close range, nevermind a saber).
4. Analysis. Gibbon's force did what it was required to do. Gibbon overcame many obstacles to gather his forces, and launched faster than the cavalry column. The major deficiency is what we now call battlefield awareness. He did not seem to gain an effective picture of enemy locations, movements, size and intentions, which is an issue when your mission is reconnaissance. But as previously stated, this information still got to Terry in time for Terry to make an accurate assessment that the Indians were on LBH.
1. Purpose. Discuss a theoretical course of action if Terry were more like Crook.
2. COA. After Gibbon had linked up with Terry, Terry formed a very good enemy estimate. He believed Indians were heading to LBH. So what if he left a depot and massed his forces for a rapid strike at the Indians? Mount his infantry on mules for additional combat power. The Gatlings would still need to be left behind, they lack mobility in that terrain.
3. Discussion. Massing force and moving up the LBH promises more decisive results. Terry's plan showed uncertainty and a lack of familiarity with Indian warfare.
a. Moving from the Yellowstone puts him ahead of the Indians. Indians cannot backtrack since their horses had already stripped the grass, and their hunting parties had depleted food supplies.
b. Crook was, to the best of their knwledge, still blocking the south.
c. Another choice for the Indians was to head towards Crow lands, but this would still put the Indians between Terry and a hostile force.
d. Moving from the Yellostone, BH, LBH area provides easy resupply from the river.
e. Launching a column with less supplies means more Infantry can mount mules. 16 days supply seems excessive, and Crook's Rosebud supply of 4 days seems to few. 6 days supply should be sufficient to scout and attack LBH.
f. The two column approach of Terry is pretty hopeless. Linking forces on the battlefield is extraordinarily difficult without radios (and a few Predators). And assuming a marching column of Infantry can act as a blocking force for Indians is very unrealistic. Instead of a deep maneuver, Terry should have massed as much of his force as possible, and conducted a shallow maneuver only after finding a village.
g. Terry and Gibbon linked on 9 Jun. Still unsure on enemy location, Terry scouted until 20 Jun. This time gap allowed summer roamers to increase hostile forces. On the other hand, the scout confirmed where the Indians were not, and led to the belief that the Indians were on heading to LBH. A commander more familiar with plains Indians could have launched earlier than 21 Jun.
Okay...get back to this at your liesure, for I'm TDY a couple days and don't know how much time I'll have...
Reno and Benteen have a duty to accomplish Custer's mission...the mission of the 7th Cav regiment.
So in their decision making, they have to do, FOREMOST, that which will accomplish that mission and Custer's intent.
Part of this is what Custer told them to do. But it rapidly ages with Custer's absence, and soon these officers have to decide for themselves how to best accomplish the 7th's mission.
So when deciding how fast to move to the front, or how long to pin down the enemy, or what to do when the enemy leaves you, or what to do when you hear heavy fighting over the hill, and you see nothing around you...
...you are guided by the 7th's mission, and whatever Custer told you, at this point, is rather irrelevant.
So we will judge Reno and Benteen NOT by how well they carried out Custer's direct order. We judge them by how well each of their decisions contributed to the regiment's success, that day.
This is what we stress in military leadership today, and it was the same in that day, as well.
Just using you as an example, not a slam.
Just what was the MISSION of the 7th, or Crook or Gibbon for that matter.
Did Custer have a mission that was different from that of the Terry Column? None of you will stand behind your definition of a mission.
Was the mission to scatter the Indians and burn the village? Was the mission to punish the Indians and burn the village? Was the mission to talk to the Indians and escort them back to the Rez.
When the government sends three Columns after Sitting Bull there needs to be an objective that must get done to call the exercise a success. They must also need to know what will be considered a failure of the operation.
I think that just about all of the "military" people on this board disagree with me on this subject.
I have always thought the mission was to Punish with enough force to make them NEVER want to leave the Res. again.
Punish= kill Indians, burn and destroy as much of the supplies as possible, anything goes.
I think that how a person views the objective dictates how they view the battle and the reasons for company movements.
What was the objective? Simple question.
Last Edit: Jun 14, 2011 15:25:05 GMT -5 by rosebud