Post by tunkasila on Jan 12, 2015 11:35:03 GMT -5
The belief that 900 Indians was the entire force in the valley is not mine, it’s the belief of the witnesses. My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that even this amount is an exaggeration as to what refer to the actual force threatening the timber position within carbine range. My guess is that only a portion of those 900 warriors would be braving the static cavalry fire, the bulk –without taking unnecesary risks– would be poised to react in defense of the village and their families.
As to your supposition that there were many more than 900 warriors around Reno, since “Benteen could only see a portion of the warrior force in the valley at that time”, it’s not born out by the witnesses:
Benteen: I saw about 900 Indians when I arrived circling around in the bottom […]
Lee: Was that when you reached Major Reno's position, or at the crossing?
Benteen: When I reached the crossing, and the same Indians were there when I reached Maj. Reno’s position.
Lee: Explain why you moved down the right bank of the stream.
Benteen: There were 900 Indians on the other side of it, who seemed to be pretty vigorous and well armed.
Gilbert: State where, in your judgment, the Indians which you estimate at 900 that you saw about Major Reno in the timber, went after you came on the hill?
Benteen: The Indians were there some little time after we were together on the hill.
Lee: Could you see into the bottom after you got there on the hill? […] What did you observe?
Edgerly: A great many Indians […] From 800 to 1.000.
Lee: Were the Indians making any demonstrations against the command when you joined it on the hill? […] Describe those you saw there.
Godfrey: I judge there were probably not less than six or seven hundred Indians in that bottom, that I saw there.
This is an interesting discussion but one thing puzzles me. I can't find any Indian account that describes any of them charging at a skirmish line outside the timber. On the contrary, they generally speak of the soldiers being hidden in the timber.
Do you have any information that clarifies the situation.