Post by thehighwayman on Dec 12, 2008 21:46:41 GMT -5
keogh "Who knows for sure?"
Certainly not I, sir.
Not to nit pick, but personally, I can see a difference between losing wounded while pulling out of a fight and retreating (however shamefully or well it is conducted), and stealing away from a more or less secured defensive position and leaving them behind.
Reno's plan to leave the wounded may fit into modern concepts of considering all options, but Benteen seems to have thought the idea shameful enough to keep it from the ears of the RCOI.
I think of it like this:
President King had promised to allow all who testified regardless of thought orientation to not say openly anything in the military that would bring shame upon the military, a departure from the then complete openness on those who are possibly lying. The actual policy was crafted by Frederick Benteen and has been maintained by his successors every since.
Thought orientation will not be a bar to service unless manifested by telling the truth. The military will discharge members who engage in truthful conduct, which is defined as a profane act, a statement that the member is truthful or not lying, or a tried or attempted about someone of the same thought process.
More generally, "Don't ask, don't tell" has come to describe any instance in which one person must keep thought process orientation and any related attributes, including military family, a secret, where deliberate accuracy would be undesirable.
After making the first trip and returning with water, Pvt Peter Thompson recalls, "The offers of money by the wounded for a drink of water was painful to hear. "Ten dollars for a drink," said one. "Fifteen dollars for a canteen of water," said a second. "Twenty dollars," said a third and so the bidding went on as at an auction. This made me determined to make another trip and to take a larger number of canteens. So I would not have to make so many trips. The firing on the part of the Indians was very brisk at intervals. On our part we never expended a cartridge unless we were sure that the body of an Indian was in sight."
So began Private Thompson's second trip for water.
"Now, Custer, don't be greedy, but wait for us." General Gibbon "No, I will not." Custer, noon, June 22, 1876 passing in review.
Post by thehighwayman on Dec 13, 2008 14:06:27 GMT -5
Benteen's testimony at the ROCI was darn near perfect. I believe his attitude was, "If you have a case to make against a brother officer of mine; then make it now." Some of his testimony can be viewed as evasive, but he was volunteering very little that would work toward condemnation of, nor to absolution for Major Reno. That’s how I see it at least.
Benteen was a Southerner by birth and breeding. In the culture of the South in the pre-Civil War days, those that considered themselves to be gentlemen had a code of personal honor. The details of that code and exactly how many 'slights' were perceived to be such is often beyond me, but be that as it may, I think much of it goes to the issue of not giving open voice to what everyone is thinking.
Everyone in uniform wanted to put the Army’s failure at the Little Bighorn behind them at that point (1879). The inquiry came about only because - basically, one man was continually after Reno, and Reno felt it was his only option to shut his detractor up. Benteen’s attitude at the inquiry has an undertone of, “So, what Earthly good is any of this going to produce? Are we done yet?” It was an exercise he had to participate in, but felt was rather unnecessary.
It should go without saying, that all of this is merely my take on these events, and how these men attempted to grapple with circumstances that were thrust upon them. Benteen was a complex man, and Reno had inner demons that he was wrestling with. I certainly have no way to look into any of their hearts to know what was there, and make no pretensions to having some sort of special insight into the matter.
‘Thru a glass, and darkly,’ as the poet said, is the best I can do, and I offer what I think I see, purely for what free opinion is worth.
I was just offering in my own sarcastic way a satirical view, presented in the true form of the "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy adopted for the military by the Clinton Administration.
I guess I should have titled the page "Satire", sorry! I assumed most would have known. But then sometimes, I do assume way too much; an inherent au naturel symptom pre-possessing my prediclition for reading way too much Benteen symposiums!
Post by thehighwayman on Dec 13, 2008 16:02:27 GMT -5
No problem, Boston. I wasn't addressing any posting in particular, and have taken absolutely no offense with anything anybody has said.
Written words often come off with a different tone than when those same words are spoken. Many times I post some simple thoughts (random ideas actually), but worry that I 'sound' as if I'm trying to speak as some self-appointed authority on any of this. Which I'm not.
Again, no problem, no offense - I enjoy reading all of it, and have only respect for the opinions expressed here. Even the dumb ones.
Post by thehighwayman on Dec 13, 2008 16:12:52 GMT -5
.... and, I might add. Your 'Don't ask, don't tell,' analogy is valid.
Most military organizations are clannish by nature. Divisions, regiments, battalions, companies - right on down to squads prefer to handle their problems in house, so to speak, and resist outsiders 'interfering' - as they view it.
'Outsiders poking their noses into the Seventh Cavalry's business,' is how I'd bet many of the oifficers testifying at the RCOI viewed the matter.
Well, I kinda thought there might a been a wee bit o truth to it. But, I didn't want to come off as my arrogant other sometimes does!
Perhaps somewhere between both our views lies the preponderance of the evidence for such presentation? It usually is that way, I think.
Any way, perhaps I should study more St. John Chrysostom, or St. Nicholas: Or my personal favoite, St. Dassius to counter my Benteen phenomena of petulant, arrogant flatualism? I'm sure he would approve, wouldn't you?
Post by bandboxtroop on Dec 13, 2008 18:38:08 GMT -5
RCH abandoning wounded is so not a modern day concept. 2 tours in Iraq since 2003 we do not leave our wounded. Muslims are the same as indians when it comes to wounded you dont let your men be taken alive. All troops going into Iraq go through Camp Buehring Kuwait for 2 weeks. You are trained what to do if your in a no win situation and have wounded, its off the books. Its the same as the 1800's never let your men be taken alive. I am not a Benteen follower but I give him a pat on back for turning down Reno's request to leave the wounded. Reno was good on leaving men as per the 18 men left in the timber. I really wish DeRudio would have wrote a book on his night in the timber with Sgt O'Neil.
After making the first trip and returning, Benteen recalled, "The offers of money by the wounded was painful to hear. "Ten dollars," said one. "Fifteen dollars," said a second. "Twenty dollars," said a third and so the bidding went on as at an auction. This made me determined to make another trip. So I would not have to make so many trips. The firing on the part of the Indians was very brisk at intervals. On our part we never expended a cartridge unless we were sure that the body of an Indian was in sight."
I didn't mean that abandoning wounded men was a modern concept. I meant that "considering all options" in a self- conscience and formalized way is a more modern way of looking at decision making.
I don't think that Reno's idea to leave the wounded was one of a number of options he was considering or a trial balloon he was floating or a passing thought. I think to analyse his idea in those terms is a mistake, and it has the effect of letting Reno off the hook.
I have no use for the "no man left behind" stuff. If you have a mission to accomplish or a command to save, if you have wounded or dying men who can't be gotten out, and if you have beasts for enenies, you kill your wounded.
Post by thehighwayman on Dec 15, 2008 10:03:18 GMT -5
You might be perfectly correct about ‘considering all options’ being more modern in practice. While I don’t believe that basic human nature was so different then from now, I know that the human condition was. Normal day to day living was much harder then. Small mistakes and oversights, easily corrected and forgotten today, could often be lethal in consequence then. Life held value, but its costs were viewed somewhat differently by the population in general. Removing ourselves from ‘now’ and thinking though these things in terms of ‘then’ is the really tough obstacle to overcome while considering all facets of the Little Bighorn fight and the characters that populate the story.
So, does anyone have a clue as to how many of the wounded could not be moved and taken along in a total withdrawl? Two men, three men or a dozen maybe? Surely there had to be those were not expected to make it whether they were taken along or not. Even IF Reno was suggesting their ‘abandondment’ as positively the thing to do, I see no reason to believe that he was suggesting they be left there alive. Carefully re-read what I originally said about it, and you will see that.
My personal opinion of Reno (as a field commander) is rather dismal, to say the least, but I don’t happen to see his as being the exclusive ‘hook’ available for what happened that June. Over the years, so called, bad press has made it larger for the purpose of diminishing the size of others’ hooks. Piling onto Reno alone, or unto Benteen to some lesser extent, is probably just human nature, and therefore the natural thing to have happen, but serves only shallow purposes. I feel confident that Reno cast a reflection, before and after the Little Bighorn, in every mirror he walked past. Same thing with Benteen and G.A. Custer (before, of course) - for consideration by those who want to go into those places in search of an ultimate villain.
bandbox "2 tours in Iraq since 2003 we do not leave our wounded. Muslims are the same as Indians when it comes to wounded you don’t let your men be taken alive."
It was the same in Vietnam. I don't know if you consider my time (40 years ago, now) to be modern day, but wounded were not left behind if it was humanly possible to bring them out. Certainly not left alive if their evacuation was impossible. It was not in General Orders or any other formal orders, it was just understood. Thank God I was never confronted with it personally, but the question afterwards, was never asked of those who were.
The VC were not so different from the Plains Indians, Mujahideen or Chetchens (ask the Russians) or Al Qaeda. Nor are any of them so different from many others in other wars and times in their treatment of prisoners. What the enemy in Iraq and Afganistan is like, is far from new. Off the books policies are nothing new either. History isn’t a matter of ‘one thing after another,’ but rather ‘the same thing over and over.’ I can’t remember who said that, but he was dead on target with it.