Interesting that the 1180 reference in the 1874 manual has a speed associated with a walk close to the average of 4 mph walk with a break. 3.75 mph. What we know is that reference was for the east and what we need is the actual training that the 7th used. If Benteen had a fast walking horse what speed was his horse moving to cause the horses to change gaits? Did they really break into a trot at 3.8 mph? I think they would walk faster up to and closer to 5 mph.
We have an aproximate idea of the actual marching gait of Custer's 7th cavalry, and it seems it was a fast one, since its pace was the fastest recommended by the 1874 Cavalry Tactics –3,75 miles an hour, as recalled by one of its officers:
"It was estimated that the village was about fifteen miles from the Crow's Nest; this would take about four hours to cover at a walk, the 7th Cavalry being a very fast walking regiment". (Letter from General Edgerly to Colonel Graham, December 5th, 1923).
General Cooke's 1864 Cavalry Tactics (page 27) also recommended a regular walk of less than 4 miles an hour, because "nothing can be more important to the regularity and order, and often the success, of large bodies of cavalry than uniformity in the gaits".
Nobody doubts that cavalry horses can walk at 5 mph, but the key in Cooke's quote above is "large bodies of cavalry."
Post by benteeneast on Sept 26, 2017 11:05:13 GMT -5
I think that I believe that a march is defined as moving from point A to point B without the proximity of the enemy or any need to move faster. I trust what the engineers state as the average rate of travel for a march and that is 3.33 mph for planning purposes.
A manual that instructs cavalry how to move in really large formations would not limit western cavalry units to moving at that same rate of travel. What comes into play is that non-gaited horses can only walk so fast before they break into a trot. What is also noted is that there is various rates of travel within a particular gait.
One must discern the difference between a walk and a lively walk. How much difference is that? If your horse has to trot to catch up that is faster than the well regulated walk where all horses leave on march at the same time and arrive at the end together.
So if I had to pick a speed that all horses could maintain it would be 4 mph or less. As you approach 5 mph horses may switch to a trot. If want to move long distances in a timely manner you move at a trot not a walk. If you have all day to move and plenty of camping places there is no need to trot so they walk.
I think the confusion comes from comparing a march rate of travel over long distances such as traveling from FAL to the Rosebud with moving on a particular mission such as closing on Indians. Infantry could move down Reno Creek faster than 3.75 mph. Wagons could move and did at a march rate of travel daily.
Well trained pack trains could move at a maximum rate of travel of 8 mph with 200 pound pack for 25 miles per day and 7 days of continuous travel. They trained mules to travel at 5 mph to develop the ambling gait. From the Manual of Pack Transportation by H W Daly Chief Pack Master of the United States Cavalry.
That appears to be twice as fast as cavalry at a march of 3.75 miles per hour. I believe the 3.75 or 4 was slower walk than a lively walk and it served the purpose of allowing scouts to find the next camp site ahead of the main body.
Post by benteeneast on Sept 29, 2017 7:58:57 GMT -5
Things done in the military have a range of battle readiness from almost zero to a high degree of proficiency. Custer's pack train was closer to zero than to the pack trains trained and noted by Daly. Crook would be a better example of training a pack train to a high degree of proficiency.
A good book on this Shavetails & Bell Sharps.
I believe that Justin (Rosebud) is very skilled in the use of horses on a ranch but I also believe he attempts to carry his skillset over to judging a different discipline which was the horsemen of the United States cavalry and its associated support system. So Justin does have expertise in the horse skills needed for ranch work but they are not the same skillset used by cavalry.
A good example is the discussion between Justin and Bill. Justin tells Bill you don't need to train to ride that short distance down Reno Creek which is true. The error I believe is not understanding that trained horses or persons can do things at a faster rate of travel and cover longer distances.
I knew how to walk a long time before I went into the Marine Corps but I can assure you that I learned skills that improved my rate of travel and distances that I could cover in a day. Marines could route step down Reno Creek faster than 4 mph. As John Gray stated, Custer did not walk down Reno Creek.
The only reason to look at sources outside of the accounts in a timeline is to find maximum rates of travel above which it would be impossible for cavalry to do. So far no credible timeline has exceeded those maximum speeds. Once the timeline is within the range of rate of travel then it accounts that determine in a particular timeline the rate of travel.
For me this is simple. Custer left earlier than he planned because he thought the Indians might be aware of his presence and flee. So they have a head start from the distance between them and Custer to pack up and then they start moving. So if Custer walks at 4 mph he gives them more time to pack and would never catch Indians moving just a little faster than 4 mph.
So knowing Custer's personality do you think he wanted them to get away and he casually walked down Reno Creek or did he trot which is this best gait to cover distance for a horse? Benteen saw Custer's horse galloping so through some of that speed in the mix and you will see that depending upon the accounts used to form a timeline the rates of travel can vary. Are some less probable? With Custer leading them I doubt that. He was there to fight and he was not going to let them walk away at 4.5 mph.
Think about it. Custer moves at 4 mph giving them time to pack up before he reaches them. Just how often has the cavalry caught villages after they have packed up and dispersed in all directions?