It could be that quite a number of men accompanied Custer. They simply may not have been seen, or they may have been back a little in a place where they couldn't be seen from the valley floor. In addition to the orderly trumpeters, Custer may have had a personal orderly as he had at the Yellowstone fight in 1873. Orderlies might accompany him to carry his rifle or to hold his horse.
Aw heck, Fred. I rarely take things personally. And when I do, I say so, just to keep the air clear. Don't worry about me, but thanks for caring. And stop apologizing, it's a sign of weakness according to Nathan Brittles.
Bless you keogh, for posting a map that doesn't make it impossible to read this thread. I see it CAN be done.
What about the route Godfrey submits? He tracked him and later walked the route with Gall, although it's unclear if this part of the route was included in the tracking. On Godfrey's map it looks to me to be the route between 1 and 2 that is mentioned above. His description of the area is on page 94, The Custer Myth.
The Godfrey thing is one of the most interesting and least understood parts of this whole fiasco. Everybody I know of misinterprets Godfrey's writing in this regard: the route he talks about is not where people think and it has absolutely nothing to do with Sharpshooters' Ridge. I must have read that section of Godfrey's article a hundred times before it hit me. How can I get it to you without spilling all the beans?
Fred ~ I know the route he TALKS/WRITES about has nothing to do with SSR and refers to a place called Godfrey's Spring. That location is shown on the McElfresh map and may or may not be in the right place. I've discovered some things on that map are misplaced. Anyway... that is a looong discussion for another part of the battle. But on the map he supposedly drew, he does show the route he thinks Custer took accross the area we're discussing. And it looks to me to be just west of SSR along it's base.
The map is notoriously inaccurate and the notation on the McElfresh map has nothing to do with the battle, per se, though I know what you are talking about. You are correct-- as far as I am concerned-- about the route being to the west of SSR. Every bit of testimony, every bit of descriptive work, every measurement "guessed" at, points to that route "west" of SSR as Cedar Coulee.
The arguments against Cedar are all couched in the hindsight forum: too narrow, too difficult, etc. That may be true, but how would Custer have known? If you do the math and figure out the timing, you will see that my initial calculations posted on some of these boards are incorrect. I have gone over all this stuff and have discovered-- based on a number of sources-- that Reno was probably in the valley longer than we give him credit for-- though NOT longer than some eye-witnesses have said. Reno stayed on his skirmish line at the upper end of the time guesstimates. That pushes DeRudio's timeline a little, but it gives Custer more time to have reached Ford B (and this is where Godfrey was wrong... Custer did go to Ford B). The volley firing gives us another point from which to calculate-- though that point is very flexible when determining Custer's actual Ford B arrival. Am I making myself clear here?
The "proof" is all based on two factors: archaeology and testimony. Unfortunately, Godfrey had no access to the former and that's why his map is incorrect. There is more, but I am hesitant to give it out just yet. Your instincts are very, very good, however, and I think-- if you include Ford B-- you have it pretty much nailed.
You are absolutely correct; it is just one of those niggling little points we all seem to strive to solve... the pursuit of perfection I guess. Sort of like a second morass, the lone tepee, and all the rest of the stuff. The fascination is in the uncertainty.
As usual, I am a day late and a dollar short, so I will give you the short version and maybe we can discuss it further, though I am sure it has already been fully covered. It is just that I do not have the time right now. Here goes.
Custer swung off from the Reno Creek trail only a few hundred yards from the LBH. He did not water at North Fork, but in a small feeder ravine that ran N-S, not E-W like North Fork. He moved up that ravine-- it can be seen easily today and it clearly seen on the topo maps. From there he moved up the east side of the bluffs for a few hundred yards, then swung over to the east to follow easier-sloping terrain. He keyed onto Sharpshooters' Ridge.
As he reached the high ground approaching Benteen-Reno Hill, he doglegged left toward the bluffs and the burgeoning sound of firing. Custer himself probably rode between his command and the bluffs, but ahead of his troops.
As he swung left, he brought his men-- in a changed formation-- toward a coulee (Cedar) between the two promontories (Weir and SSR). Custer then went to the edge of the bluffs-- 3,411 on the topo map-- and viewed Reno's initial deployments.
Once finished-- 4, 5 minutes, probably no more-- he moved to his command and they began their trek down Cedar, not an easy journey. He reached MTC and moved left. When he saw the easier route up toward Luce-- right where the northern fork comes into MTC-- he moved up the hillside and stopped on Luce Ridge. He dropped off Keogh (C, I, and L) and himself, proceeded down toward Ford B: (1) along the ridges; or (2) one company in MTC and one on the ridges; or (3) both companies in MTC... your choice.
Fred and everyone: What do you think of the story/account I read somewhere of a siting of Custer himself and alone scouting along the river in the ford B area with, I assume, part of his command still back up MTC waiting? Don't know if there is any truth to it, but the more I think about it, it just seems like one of those natural things that Custer was prone to do. Which also explains why the command may have been halted at MTC for a while. Also wonder if that was before or after the Martini departure.
Yes, his story does hold some merit, although I do think he, like several others there, were prone to exaggerate their accounts so as to tell a more interesting story. There are those battle researchers who, having found a single exaggeration or falsehood in an account, will then conclude that the entire account must be a fabrication. To me, this is, in essence, throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Many of the enlisted men accounts will include a few "stretchers" here and there so as to make for a more interesting story. We see this in Pvt. Pigford's account, Pvt. Korn's account, and certainly Peter Thompson's account as well. But yes, I do believe that the crux of his story holds true and matches up quite well with the terrain described and time factors. His fellow troopers certainly had no qualms believing him.
"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."
That said, I think we need to balance out DeRudio's comments about seeing 3 figures (unidentified in my mind) on the bluffs"....."From the top of SSR, you cannot see the entire valley where the village was situated, as the Weir Peaks block your view, so Custer could see the Reno fight from there very well, but not much at all of the village." regards, keogh
Private Peter Thompson stated,"The plan marked out was to attack the Indians in the following manner: Major Reno was to cross the river to its left band and proceed down until Custer had time to pass down the right bank and cross over and attack them in the rear. On the left side of the river the country was flat, on the right it was very rough and broken: there was a low range of hills cut up by numerous intersecting ravines. It was Custer's intention to keep out of sight of the Indians until he had time to cross over the river, three miles below. After Reno left us we commenced to travel in paralleled lines with the Little Horn river, which was thickly screened by cottonwood trees and underbrush. We now left the valley in which we had been traveling and commenced to climb the bluffs overlooking the river and surrounding country. At this time our horses were in a trot. At our right, and on a slight elevation, sat Gen. Custer and his brother Tom reviewing the companies as they passed by. This was the last review General Custer ever held. Cook (sic), the adjutant, was giving orders wherever Custer deemed it necessary. When we reached to top of the hill, we were ordered to form into sets of fours which would make us a more solid and compact body."
Shorty after Thompson has trouble with his horse and spurs, runs into Sargent Finkle and James Watson whose horse is down.
Thopmson says,"By this time, the last of the companies had disappeared over the crest of the hill."...."I then looked across the river at the Indian Village, it was all in commotion. One party of Indians were dashing down the river; others were rushing toward the upper end of the village. The cause of this commotion was Major Reno with three companies of men about a mile distant from the upper end of the village, dashing along in a gallop towards them."..."major Reno seeing that he was greatly outnumbered ordered and immediate retreat to a grove of cottonwood trees."..."Major Reno led the retreat toward the river and across it and up to the top of the bluff."
After listening to Thompson, I believe the three on the hill were George Custer, Tom Custer and Cooke.
As they left Reno and proceeded up the valley they climbed up the ridge (Reno Hill) in view of the village, with Custer staying to the right on SSA. The troops staying on the ridge till the top of Cedar Coulee when they were ordered to sets of four to go down the coulee. From atop the ridge where it drops down the Cedar Coulee both the village and SSA are in clear view from the view of Thompson, where Custer on SSA only has a view of Reno on the valley.
The movement of the troops down Cedar Coulee would hide them from the village, just as were Custer's intentions. I added the view of Reno on the floor as time frame and as the fact the Thompson was able to view Reno's valley retreat up the hill.
"Now, Custer, don't be greedy, but wait for us." General Gibbon "No, I will not." Custer, noon, June 22, 1876 passing in review.
What do you think of the story/account I read somewhere of a siting of Custer himself and alone scouting along the river in the ford B area with, I assume, part of his command still back up MTC waiting?
That account was told by Private Peter Thompson. And it is one of the hard sells that a number of historians trashed Thompson over.
Pvt Thompson speaks several times about Custer going off by himself throughout the campaign, to scout and no doubt to interface with his scouts.
Thompson said," As we approached the Powder River,"..."Custer then wheeled his horse around and dashed away in a westerly direction, leaving us standing at our horses' heads until his return. Custer's brother Tom was the only one who went with him. This action would have seemed strange to us had it no been almost a daily occurance (sic). I seemed that the man was so full of nervous energy that it was impossible for him to move along patiently. Sometimes he was far in advance of all others, then back to his command; then he would dash off again followed by his orderly named Bishop, who tried in vain to keep Custer in sight. He would either return to us again or seek an elevation where he could catch a glimpse of the general dashing ahead over the country and try to intercept him on his way back."
To find Custer away from his command by himself or interfacing with his scouts, should not be surprising to anyone. This is Custer as he was.
Down at the base of the hill (bluff) at the river Private James Watson and Private Peter Thompson are isolated from everyone else. Thompson says,"While looking on and wondering where the Crow was going we were further astonished by seeing General Custer dash out of the fording place and ride rapidly up to the Crow and commence to talk to him."..."When the Crow scout left him, he wheeled around and made for the same point in the river where we had first seen him. When he was passing us he slightly checked his horse and waved his right hand twice for us to follow him. He pointed down the stream, put spurs to his horse and disappeared at the ford, never uttering a word. That was the last I ever saw of Custer alive. He must have gone thence directly to his command. We wondered why none of his staff were with him. In all probability he had outrun them. His being alone shows with what fearlessness he traveled about even in the enemy's country with hostiles all around him."
Where this meeting took place is upstream of Ford B. From Thompson's viewpoint he could not see Ford B for the large steep cuts just downstream prevented him from either seeing or advancing to Ford B. Custer's return to the companies awaiting in the MTC, would afford him the knowledge of the Ford at the mouth of MTC.
"Now, Custer, don't be greedy, but wait for us." General Gibbon "No, I will not." Custer, noon, June 22, 1876 passing in review.