Last question when did custer realize that the time for offense was over and a defensive posture was necessary?
There is one train of thought where a habitually aggressive Custer attacked to the end. There is no point going into a fight intending to lose or run away unless ordered to. It is then a perfectly legitimate tactic. There are plenty of instances where Custer did what it took to get the job done and also some quite brilliant tactics which were spectacularly succesful and also harbingers of catastrophic counter punches but he was always able to pull his chestnut out of the fire. The two days of fighting at Trevillian Station is a good measure of him, as is the 1865 battle at Waynesborough. A popular take on him is reckless bravery.
So, when did the penny drop? Well, it depends on how you see the fight. If he was shot early on then he was not in the saddle, so to speak, and the retreat to Battle Ridge was not his decision.
If he was upright in the saddle and compos mentis then several hundred hostiles approaching from Weir Peak were reported approaching his left flank and rear across what we now call Medicine Tail Coulee and the rest was history. As someone else rrecently put it - they got whacked.
The correct deduction is that the battle was lost when Custer's command did not cross the river into the valley.
Welcome to the forum, Airgunner. You ask very good questions. I think HR & keogh has given fine answers to your questions.
I would add that (IMO) GAC wanted/Ordered FB to Come on & Quickly attack the Big Village, Not support MR specifically, However if MR was still in the Valley fighting Warriors when FB arrived at Ford A, then FB would've crossed and attacked the Warriors between him and the Big Village, (His Goal) and doing so would've also "Supported" reno as they would've Geographically been beside each other, FB to reno's Left/West flank. Much the same as IF Troopers crossed at Ford B and turned South, they would've been behind the Warriors in reno's front, thus that would also "Support" reno. But, as we know reno "SkeeDaddled" before either "Support" could cross the LBH at A & B and support MR.
IF, the 4 Battalions of reno, Benteen, Keogh & Yates were in combat with Warriors between the Village and the Pack Train, then there would be little to no chance the Warriors would attack the pack train. As keogh points out the pack train had more Troopers than did FB. Furthermore the the Pack Train had plenty of ammo, food, and materials to throw up breastworks. (and reno's whiskey keg) So IMO the Pack Train could defend themselves. (Unless the other 4 Battalions "SkeeDaddled" like mr did)
I believe GAC realized mr retreated, thus crossing at B into the middle of the Big Village would've NOT been wise. The 1000+ screaming Warriors galloping towards B from the village side and the couple hundred Warriors coming over the bluff's at Weir peaks and towards GAC's flank and rear decided this, THIS caused GAC to withdraw from B up to high ground to defend his flank and rear and be in a good place to be seen by and support the rest of the Regmt. that would surly continued the attack, & rejoin the Battle, ....., Right? But GAC was still on offense.
I believe GAC with Yates Battalion moved North in an attempt to cross the LBH @ C, C2, D, D1, D2 etc. wherever he thought he could to be past the North end of the Village where the NA"s NonCom's were gathered and achieve his Great Victory. There was resistance at the river and Warriors guarding the NonCom's with more Warriors quickly approaching. I think GAC could now see a masses of Warriors that had crossed the river and were advancing up the slopes towards Keogh's Battalion and No sign of Troopers of MR or FB fighting anywhere in sight, so he pulled back to Cemetery Ridge to hold good defensive ground until reinforcements arrived and he could renew the attack on the Village. It seem's he may have sent E Co. to attack and try to stop CH and the flood of Warriors coming up Deep Ravine and over Battle Ridge, when that failed there was nothing else to do but try to make a defensive stand until the rest of the Regmt. arrived, ......! (Well actually he could have done a every man for himself "Charge" like reno did!)
General of the Army (Medicine Man/Chief))
The intent and reality of the written message carried urgently from Custer to Benteen should be considered and has long been mulled and opined. Linked is DuBois's thinking and its implications.
It's interesting stuff which contributes to the false maligning of Sgt. Kanipe for what is the most subtle of ignorances. Kanipe would not testify at Chicago. Reno could not have it heard that the pack train arrived on Reno Hill not far behind Benteen. Mathey was only a fast ten minute ride away. Therefore some round hairyness wass performed for the Court. John S. (Lumpen) Gray absolutely engulfed donkeyhood and thre miles per hour gait and many modern seeds of battle opinion were spurted forth.
A close study of the note and contemplation of circumstances indicates that it actually states 'B' bring pacs. It is a 'B' and is not 'ps'. I State what Keogh does but not as ambiguously.
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Post by benteeneast on Oct 27, 2017 9:25:15 GMT -5
Benteen was never ordered to Reno. He was to use his judgment and also take charge of the movement of the pack train. There is no way that Reno could expect support with mutual overlapping fields of fire against the Indians surrounding his horse protective storage area in the timber. Custer moved north to attack the end of the village wherever that was to be found. Due to the large numbers of Indians willing to fight and the separation of family groups along with the distance, Custer would have been opening a frontal attack and not a supporting attack against the Indians fighting Reno. I believe what he found was lots of Indians willing to fight that chased him back up Cemetery Ridge and his final location at LSH. He was doing exactly what Reno did in the valley and was retrograding to the rear where the rest of the regiment could be joined.
The large numbers of Indians willing to fight and the various family groups which would influence where an Indian would chose to defend against the soldiers worked against Custer being able to support Reno on his end of the village. I think the Cheyennes were a surprise not anticipated as Custer moved north to attack the village on the other side of the river. Once they advanced on Custer he moved back to LSH and was caught in the terrible terrain features which favored the Indians.
There was no way Custer was going to be able to cross at Ford B without lots of casualties. The village infrastructure was right where he would have to regroup and form up. So there is crossing available at Ford B but not the entire length so crossing would be columns rather than on line for the entire reach. Then egress requires climbing a bank into older age Cottonwood riparian area. All of this moving through the river. climbing the banks, and moving through timber in some areas slows the rate of movement and during that time the troopers are vulnerable to being shot at without being able to fight back. the rallying point is in the village.
There is various discussion on the actual location of everything in the Big Village but none of the opinions state that MTF was an unopposed crossing that crossing there would place Custer in the open on the northern end of the village.