Post by conz on Mar 4, 2008 10:52:02 GMT -5
I actually tend to agree with Pohanka and Conz that Crazy Horse did ride up Deep Ravine Ford, as opposed to Ford D to reach the battlefield. My thinking is that he rode up Deep Ravine, which splits into two ravines further up, one leading to Finley Ridge near Greasy Grass Hill, while the other continues east towards LSH. My thought it that Lame White Man and his Cheyennes took the ravine leading towards Finley Ridge, whereas Crazy Horse took the other ravine leading towards Last Stand Hill, which was presently unoccupied with Yates battalion out of sight in the vicinity of Ford D. According to Indian accounts, Yates battalion and Custer's HQ remained in the vicinity of Ford D not far from the location of the present day stone house on Cemetery Ridge for well over 20 minutes. During this time, Last Stand Hill would be left undefended and Crazy Horse would have ridden directly around that hill to reach the eastern ridges behind the Keogh position. This ties in very well with White Bull's account. No Indian account I am aware of places Crazy Horse anywhere near Lame White Man or associates his charge with that of the latters. My interpretation of White Bull's account seems to place the two of them on eastern ridge to begin their bravery runs against the horse-holders directly behind Calhoun Hill and just south of the I Company troopers and their led horses. I would suggest that these very successful bravery runs occurred at about the same time or shortly after the attack by Lame White Man from the west, which would have diverted the attention of the defenders on Calhoun Hill and Battle Ridge away from them. The attack on the horse-holders behind Calhoun Hill had the effect of driving these horses north into Keogh's swale where the led horses of I Co. were being held, causing further confusion among the troopers there and leading to the collapse of Keogh's defense.
Yes, our models are similar, but diverge in a few ways, it appears:
There are about three main ways to move east from Deep Ravine ford...you mentioned the main two. I'd add one in the middle....one goes right up behind GGR (LWM's route we both agree on)...called "Calhoun Coulee."
Then there is a ridge (which I believe C Co was originally posted on, as shown me by Pohanka...not my original thought), which comes down off Calhoun Hill between GGR and Battle Ridge. I think this ridge, and the coulee between it and Battle Ridge, is the area Crazy Horse went up, and I'll explain why.
The northernmost is where I think Bill places his CH route...up the "skirmish line ridge" area and across LSH...either just north, or just south, of the hilltop, from there moving east and then south to get on the east side of I Company.
While this is certainly possible, and gives CH a "cleaner" route to the battle with I Co than the Ford D route does, I have three problems with it that tend me towards the "middle avenue of approach"...
1) the terrain up Deep Ravine to LSH is much more narrow and worse for a group of cavalry...part of it includes the "gulch" that E Co could not cross, and "fell into" later in the battle.
2) as CH making a decision as to what to attack and how to get there...I see no reason for him to use a more northerly route when it is Calhoun's position he is attacking. I think he would be aiming for the direct rear of Calhoun Hill...intending to gallop around it to the north, but no need to take a worse and more indirect route to Custer Hill first....just cross Battle Ridge at long rifle range from Calhoun...and that would be about halfway between Calhoun and Custer hills. Now if Bill has a platoon of I Co posted here, that would cause CH to take his Custer hill route, but I see no evidence of this platoon being here...in fact, I don't think C Co would have been swamped and destroyed if I Co had had a platoon firing west from battle ridge...
3) the model has to explain how I Co was engaged in close combat with no evidence of having firing positions anywhere. I Co probably expended less ammo than any other unit with Custer's half of the regiment. I think it very unlikely that if CH had taken any northerly route...that is, any route that did not quickly and immediately lay him in the lap of an unprepared I Co with its Troopers individually holding their horses...we could not have the evidence of the bodies and casings that we find today. I don't see evidence of any fighting positions held by I Co...but good evidence that they were decisively engaged in a reserve position before they could be deployed. I don't see how CH moves all around them at long range to get on their east side and catches them in such a position. I do think CH charged I Co from the east...but only after they had ridden through them already from the west.
That's not definitive, of course...just my ramblings as a tactician...<g> Plenty of possibilities that change the conditions (like having a platoon in a firing position facing west off battle ridge) would have to change this model.