Cavalry Tactics - Small Units Jan 5, 2013 11:28:45 GMT -5
Post by Clair on Jan 5, 2013 11:28:45 GMT -5
Right, you’re a Major in the 7th U.S. Cavalry who’s called for an Inquiry into your conduct at the LBH, specifically for cowardice and you’re hoping to clear your name. Your options concerning your decision to leave the timber are, 1) You were forced out of it by warrior numbers, or 2) You made a rational decision to leave a poor defensive position for a better one you’d seen on higher ground further south (even though you hadn’t seen any such thing).
They key issue the Major's reputation hangs on is whether he is fulfilling his mission. That is what all the business at the RCOI about whether Reno's withdrawal allowed the Warriors to attack and block Custer was about. Reno HAS to stay in the timber unless he is FORCED out, is his tactical requirement.
Now he does attempt the defense of making a rational move before he could be surrounded completely and cut off, but this does not address what his mission really was. And the court was not of the mind to press him on this issue, even though Recorder Lee raised it. All the officers on the board knew it, of course, but chose to be quiet about it. The inquiry was about Reno's bravery, not about his tactical decision making.
Which option do you think is going to impress the Court more favourably? It has to be No.2 as that is a command decision and shows you to have been in control. As this was a Court of Inquiry and not a Court Martial there was no indictment involved.
I don't think so, mainly because if I were an officer on that court I would not take it that way. What I would hear is that Reno is abandoning his mission WITHOUT CAUSE. That is very damning to his reputation (as indeed it was in the event).
It is FAR better to say that you were FORCED out of the timber, against your will, because overwhelming numbers pushed you out, than that you abandoned your mission willingly on your own advice. Reno tried to have it both ways, of course...that he wasn't forced out, but withdrew because he figured eventually he would be forced out/destroyed. So he took prudence for the better part than valor.
Some people still believe him.
The simple answer to your first question is that in Reno’s mind at that time, in that timber, he was forced to abandon his position. His control of his command had been eroded, firstly by taking himself off the skirmish line into the timber with some Co. G men, then by staying there, causing anxiety to emerge in some of his officers, which in turn caused DeRudio to take some Co. A men into the timber, then Moylan to panic as the skirmish line shrank and pull the remaining skirmishers back to the timber. A worried Reno couldn’t see his enemy, expected that enemy to attack him at any time, almost certainly couldn’t think of a way to defend the timber and thought the only way was to get out of it. When Bloody Knife was killed it spurred Reno into the only course of action he could envisage so he led the command out.
I agree with you very much. I truly think that the foremost reason in Reno's mind to leave the timber and go "somewhere/anywhere" else was his attempt to regain initiative and control over the situation. This is actually a very common cavalry officer affliction...that movement is progress, even to the rear.
Dear me Clair, I can’t believe you want to go down this path. Apart from the two Indian quotes I’ve already given there are quite a few more that show that the Indians were very much on the offensive against Reno in the timber.
The Warriors were NEVER going to actually go into the timber into close combat with the Soldiers. EVER. I think that is a rule.
Now the Warriors were certainly all around Reno, shooting into the timber from a relatively safe range. A few dismounted men were in the bushes playing with the Soldiers, but not close enough to report any close combats in the trees. Mostly the Warriors stayed mounted and out of range, in all directions. They could see many Soldiers at all...they were just shooting into the trees, those that had rifles. They weren't really close enough to use arrows or lances.
Now you last quote there mentioned Crazy Horse's arrival at the Reno field. This is a very overlooked battlefield event by all historians, and the next book on this battle should correct that. It was a big event, mentioned by several.
It seems that Reno and the Lakota were in a stalemate for a few minutes...the Warriors wouldn't go into the timber, and Reno wouldn't come out. What seems to have changed this was the thunder of CH's group galloping around Garry Owen bend from the Oglalla/Cheyenne village. The ground shook, the Warriors already there all got worked up, and it may have been this pressure that finally precipitated Reno's hasty retreat. If he hadn't ordered it before this, it certainly pushed him on his way. Hard to tell the exact timing of Reno's orders to withdraw and CH's noisy arrival, but they are close.
Presumably we full agree now that I’ve pointed out your original erroneous assumption, but you’re still wrong, the warriors did most certainly have the ability to force Reno to withdraw, because that’s exactly what he did, not once, but twice. Once off the skirmish line and once out of the timber. Further, the warrior threat caused Benteen and the pack train to remain on the Hill with Reno and caused the rapid withdrawal from Weir Point.
I disagree. Yes, they can make a skirmish line form into a hedgehog, but that is not withdrawing. NOTHING the Warriors could do could FORCE Reno out of that timber...not one thing. Reno himself has 100% of the say as to whether he stays or goes, and there is nothing the Warriors can do but try to psychologically influence that decision.
What you’re really trying to say is that Reno should’ve been able to stand up to the warriors he faced and Custer assumed that he would. Further that those warriors could be expected to continue to be occupied whilst he, Custer, implemented his plans at the northern end of the camps.
Of course...that is something we presumably full agree on.
But whether or not those things happened, Custer would still not have imagined that the warriors would be prepared to not to flee but meet him head on instead. That’s where the thinking breaks down – the unpredictable and unusual action taken by the warriors.
I still don't get why you think it is "unpredictable and unusual"...the Warriors fighting and not running. NONE of the officers thought that, I firmly believe. They had fought these Warriors before. ALL the officers believed the Warriors would fight like bees out of a kicked hive.
Why would any officer (or Soldier) think that the Warriors would run? When had Warriors run before when their village was attacked?