It really doesn't matter what the indian casualties were. These were warriors who could not be replaced. The army had basicallly replaced the troops at the little big horn by the end of July already. The indians couldn't replace their casualties.
Post by thehighwayman on Sept 11, 2009 17:16:49 GMT -5
Personally, I don't think Custer was 'in charge of the battle' from the time he was informed that Indians had discovered the lost pack, and therefore the presence of his regiment. His actions became reactive from that point. I suspect he had initially planned to attack on the 26th, but felt forced to advance the attack to the 25th, after that discovery.
Rushing forward before the Indians might escape, he was off balance, in a manner of speaking. Custer never fully established a new time-table, to properly coordinate his three battalions for the assault(s) on the Indian encampment.
I assume, you were speaking of a river crossing at MTF? There is dispute over that event actually having happened.
Thanks for the welcome, I know there's a lot of dispute over what happen after Custer left Reno. But what I'm getting at is what if the river crossing did happen and let's say Custer received one on his mortal wounds at that time? either one of the wounds would have put him out of the picture and thrown the batt. in more confusision than was there to begin. What do you think?
Post by thehighwayman on Sept 13, 2009 16:16:21 GMT -5
Given the scenario you pose in your last posting, YES, I agree that confusion would reign, and chaos would likely follow soon after, especially under the weight of the aggressive resistance the Indians were demonstrating that day. Here's why I think so:
Custer was always in the lead, and his subordinates were probably used to him giving specific directions as the situation developed. George Custer shot from the saddle had never happened before, and was (apparently) a possibility not well planned for in advance. I believe I stated earlier, my belief was that Custer was forced to abandon his original time-table, and the preferred positioning of his forces prior to attack. A Washita-style approach was likely what he had in mind, and he tried to stick with it, but unknown distances and unsuspected circumstances were the undoing.
Custer was habitually secretive as to just what his plans were. I think that that trait was the product of a near encounter with a career-ending experience during the Civil War. One involving Southern spies of the disarmingly innocent and lovely female type. [Google: Major Annie & Custer] Every organization develops its own ‘culture’ in it’s relationships between principals and in its operational activities. The Seventh’s was, Custer is the ‘Man with the plan,’ and ‘Custer has the answers,’ - to over simplify. He had a circle of devotees, which is not to say full confidants as far as his thinking was concerned, but rather, a small group which worked well for him - as long as he was at the head of their chain of command. Some who should have been pulled closer were relegated (for a number of causes) to a second tier status, of sorts. And, there were the neutrals and those obliged to follow behind the second tier leaders. Well, it makes sense to me, anyway, but that was the Seventh’s culture going into the Little Bighorn fight.
Historically, Indians almost invariably ran and melted away into the landscape when caught on a battlefield not of their choosing. Custer’s biggest worry had been that they would NOT stand and fight him, and that they would slip through his fingers. Given that mind-set, he didn’t appear to see any recklessness in dividing his forces up into smaller units. He wasn’t worried that each or any might prove too small to deal with whatever group of warriors those individual units might encounter. It just was not in the experience of anyone that the Indians would hang together and fight as a combined force, showing any coordination of effort between the various bands.
Word of the lost pack discovered by Indians led him to the logical, but false, conclusion the Indians were alerted to his presence and they would scatter. At that point, he was still uncertain of their exact location and the layout of their camps. He knew they were close, but was still ‘blind’ to some majorly critical facts. He divided his regiment (Benteen to the left), in an effort to locate them all and block what he considered to be possible escape routes open to them. Then he moved forward quickly to locate the main encampment. When he got a visual on the main encampment’s location, he immediately sent Reno forward to attack and draw the warriors out.
Custer moved on to the right in a flanking maneuver (knowing Benteen was still to the left,) to cut them off from escaping in that direction, but left Reno in the dark and unclear as too what role, or further role he himself (Custer) was or would be playing. Additionally, at some point one of his scouts (Herendeen, I believe) had told him the Indians were running like devils - or words to that effect, reinforcing his mental picture of how that thing was developing. Then he was really in a hurry, and continued to further distance himself from Reno and Benteen. He was by design or happenstance, being drawn beyond his effective support and into a sort of isolation from the balance of the regiment.
The actual scope of the Indian encampment’s size began to dawn on him at some point along that roughly northward movement, away from the regiment‘s other two battalions, and he sent word to Benteen to move forward ‘quick’(ly), and at the same time, to somehow drag the anchor which was the pack train along with him. Then we know no more of what he did, other than what the fragmented, partial, conflicting and confusing accounts left by warrior survivors (over many years) might tell us.
What ever it was that happened, for the troopers in his battalion, it was fast, extremely violent and terrifying. With Custer down early in the action on that portion of the battlefield we can easily add chaotic. The worst case scenario was that Custer was down but still conscious, or semi-conscious, and cognizant enough for the second in command (or other immediate subordinates) to be deferring to him for decisions on what to do next. IF the second in command, Captain Keogh, was anywhere near-by.
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Post by zekesgirl on Sept 13, 2009 20:25:07 GMT -5
My thoughts along this line are that Custer was still conscious and trying to get to Keogh but the Indians forced him to the north, perhaps past LSH and they fought their way back that far. He may have not realized how badly hurt he was with so much adrneliane running through at that time.
Custer was alive, unwounded, and in command when he arrived at Custer Hill and later when he organized his last stand. The regimental standard bearer, the chief trumeter, and the regimental adjutant were all found near Custer, the sergeant major and Custer personal flag bearer were found on the northern end of the field. Had anything happened to Custer, Keogh would have taken command of the 5 companies, and Cooke as adjutant would been required to made some effort to contact Reno, in particular, or Benteen.
Custer was not always in the lead.
Once Custer decided to move northward, his command advanced in good order and with few if any casualties toward Calhoun Hill, drove the Indians on that part of the field off, and proceeded toward Custer Hill.
There is no reason to believe that Custer was killed or mortally wounded at Ford B.
The problem with killing Custer is that there's no way to prove that it happened anywhere but on Custer Hill. Indians who claimed to see a buckskin clad officer killed in mid-stream may have been as aware that Custer was supposed to have been wearing buckskin as the Indians who drew pictures of the Custer fight and included a long haired, buckskin wearing Custer in the their works.
I tend to favor rch's approach to this; only because there was a report that Custer took that jacket off and tied it to his saddle. The reasons for this appear to have been the hot weather as you, Melanie previously pointed out. I for one would not have wanted it on either; bullet or arrow proof or not: Just too much chance of getting dehydrated too quickly. Of course there is nothing to say that he didn't put it back on, but i'm doubtful of that: What did DeRudio say he was wearing?
I think Custer may have moved beyond Last Stand Hill for a reasons related to a recon and that some fighting may have taken place, but I don't think Custer tried to cross at Ford D. If Custer had an idea of crossing at that point there would be no need to hold back three companies.
I don't believe that Custer was trying to round up women and children and old men either.
My little happy world has headquarters trying to reach Keogh and realizing that they cannot when they crest the hill.
That tends to make sense to me as well as to how maybe Keogh met his demise. It's something to explore. Kinda requires what I think Herosrest is trying to say that Gall came up Deep Coulee, along Henryville, and worked his way around to the back side of battle ridge. Also requires a foray to the ford D area. Gall flanking Calhoun Hill would have brought Keogh off of Calhoun, Finley, and Battle Ridge to meet up with Gall in horse holder ravine where his horses were and also explain why Custer was blocked at LSH and shot his horses on the east crest. The weakened forces at Battle Ridge and Calhoun lost the ability to fend off Crazy Horse coming up Deep Ravine or over Greasy Grass ridge. Of course the lack of ammo contributed to the NAs getting close. But then there are those that say that Crazy Horse looped around the north side of LSH and he was the blocking force which is in direct opposition to those models who have CH attacking the west side of battle ridge in the middle and splitting Keogh and driving Keogh down into horseholders' ravine. To me, Keogh being driven off battle ridge to the east would have left a lot more casualties on the ridge itself but I can't rule out that they left Calhoun and Finley to try to get to LSH and maybe they never occupied the entire ridge but left a skirmishers up there who could not stop CH.
My model has elements of the later part of your post above, with CH coming out of Deep Ravine and over Battle Ridge into I Co in the swale behind it, still in reserve, with her Soldiers still dismounted holding their horses, waiting for orders.
My instinct says that I Co was never deployed when it got into close combat with Warriors.