Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

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Oroblanco
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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Post by Oroblanco » Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:22 pm

pippinwhitepaws wrote:were these 'bunchs' of bodies, remains from Wier's attempt to join custer?
I do not know - his statement was taken during an interview with a General whom had not been present at the Little Bighorn, and just mentioned that he had passed a "couple bunches of soldiers" on his way to join up with the pack train, not whether they were alive or dead. I am guessing that it would be before Weir had made his attempt, for White Man Runs Him had left Custer before Custer's men had gone down Medicine Tail, the distance covered may have taken twenty minutes or so. My guess is that he saw some of Reno's men on the hill, but did not realize they were the battalion and that was not where he had been told to go so kept on to the pack train. Walter Camp simply figured that the "pack train" meant Reno and White Man Runs Him didn't know the difference, but I have to disagree on that presumption. Pack train is pretty specific, and surely he would know what a pack train was by that point in time.

There are also the two men from C troop who deliberately dropped out of formation and hid out, to later join up with Reno, also from the same file (of four) with Peter Thompson and Watson which is rather odd but the point where they dropped out seems to be well back on the trail about where Custer's trail split off from following Reno's.


By the way, Joe - yes on Reno's abandoning the wounded men in the timber, and he also proposed abandoning the wounded on Reno hill on the night of the 25th, which Benteen put a stop to. This first abandonment and later proposal to do so, should have resulted in charges and conviction of Reno in my opinion. Reno may not have been a full-blown coward but the fact that he was perfectly willing to abandon wounded men to be tortured to death says something about him that is not positive.

I have to get back to work, will pop in later this evening - I hope you all have a very pleasant day and thank you for your replies.
Roy
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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Post by Oroblanco » Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:30 pm

PS that brings up another mystery of this subject - those four men from C troop who one way or another ended up surviving with Reno as just mentioned. Thompson and Watson (working from memory on the names, may have them wrong) along with the other two, were all in the same file of four men and all four ended up surviving. They were the last file of four in C troop, so perhaps their missing was not noticed, or nothing could be done about it at the time. However it is curious that all four survived, even the Indian scouts were amazed that Thompson and Watson made it for they saw Sioux surrounding the two men on foot, quite some distance from Reno and figured they were lost.

What makes it especially curious is that C troop was apparently the leading troop of Custer's battalion, so the four men who fell out of the column would have been passed by four more companies of soldiers riding by, with a fair number of officers. Something just doesn't seem right about that - how was it that the four men were not seen by four troops of cavalry riding along the very same trail? The companies are not believed to have been widely separated but perhaps there is something not being told? Was Custer's battalion divided into its two component battalions (Yates and Keogh) that early, so that the four men from C troop would not have been passed by the rest of the command? We can never know for sure, but it does look mighty suspicious. I can understand the two who deliberately fell back and hid but the other two were striving as hard as they could to join up with Custer. I would appreciate any opinions (and won't hold anyone accountable for an opinion stated) on how this could have happened. Got to sign off, thank you in advance.
Roy
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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Post by Joe Ribaudo » Sat Jul 23, 2011 10:14 am

Roy,

Some of the things you mentioned in your last post are familiar to me, but I can't remember where to go to refresh my memory. Too many sources. Can you help me out there?

Thanks and take care,

Joe

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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Post by Oroblanco » Sat Jul 23, 2011 2:22 pm

Hi Joe <and Pip, and anyone else reading this>,

The sources are pretty scattered and I can't recall all of them offhand either; in fact the four men from C troop escaped notice by me for a while until cross-checking the rosters for the regiment, and sure enough there are several men who survived but ought to have been with Custer - along with two who died with Custer but were not immediately explainable as they belonged to the other companies. (They were two soldiers whom had been with Reno in the valley, sent by him to Custer during his advance down the valley - the last that was seen of either one, was Mitchell was seen trying to find a spot to cross the river but clearly they made it to Custer.)

Thompson's story is (or was) online and in several books, Walter Camp's field notes has it though he dismisses Thompson's story out of hand for being far-fetched (another inexplicable conclusion on Camp's part) and remember that Peter Thompson was another of the soldiers who won the Medal of Honor in the battle of the Little Bighorn. I can't dismiss the words of a Medal of Honor soldier out of hand. I don't have that book at hand but can find it later, think I had it in the basement last. The two soldiers dropping out deliberately is (I think) listed in the Custer Myth (may be wrong, will check) and the only details I could get was their names, that they dropped out just about where Custer turned off from following Reno's trail, and that they joked about their little trick between themselves later as a private joke. Thompson mentioned it in passing in his account. Bruce Brown has a version of Thompson's account online at :

http://www.astonisher.com/archives/muse ... _horn.html

- and at one time I thought Brown's website a good resource of collected accounts, but on checking his online versions found that he has not done well in making his own insertions clearly his own insertions, which could be misleading for the readers. His Google Earth satellite mapping photos of the "exact" locations where each incident occurred are largely his own guesswork, which could also be misleading but the main text of Thompson's account is there. He also converted the mass of accounts to a "pay" system, can't blame him for wanting to make a buck but when the source material can be had in most cases free elsewhere and his habit of heavily adding in his own opinions to the accounts without making it clear they are his opinions dropped the value of the whole IMHO.

Kind of queer that four men of C troop whom should have been with Custer lived, and four men who should not have been with Custer seem to have taken their places in the graves - the two men sent by Reno as messengers, Reed and Boston Custer whom were with the pack train. There are quite a few "mystical" oddities in this whole campaign from start to finish.

One more curiosity and I will leave you (I should be working on something but it is just too danged hot in the sun) til later. The three Crow scouts who left Custer before Curley, rode to the pack train, receiving no instructions from either Reno or Benteen or any other officer, then rode off to meet Lt Bradley from the Terry - Gibbon column. They shouted across the river that Custer had been wiped out and Reno could was trapped and could not last long, which Bradley dutifully passed on to Terry and Gibbon, whom did not believe the story or at least said they didn't. To a man, all three Crow scouts (again not including Curley) later claimed that they never knew anything of what had happened to Custer, they had been speaking of Reno's defeat. It strikes me that they had agreed amongst themselves not to reveal that they had seen more than was later admitted to. What I can't understand is why the change of story? Any opinions or theories on this puzzle are welcome and invited, and I won't hold anyone accountable on an opinion or theory, but would like to read them. Thank you in advance, and I hope you have a very pleasant day - and STAY COOL!
Roy
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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Post by pippinwhitepaws » Mon Jul 25, 2011 9:09 am

http://books.google.com/books?id=-Z-8tI ... ns&f=false


an older examination of the bodies locations..and the question of extra grave marrkers on the battlefield..

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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Post by Oroblanco » Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:58 pm

Muchas gracias amigo Pippin, it looks pretty interesting! That point about the actual burial sites is also something worth examining for several eyewitnesses mentioned that they often buried the dead practically where they were found, and often in the shallow pits that the men had dug before they were killed. So the sites marked out as the trenches for Reno hill, may not be too accurate, and there were shallow trenches at the Custer position as well which were not detected by later researchers simply because they had been used as graves.
Roy
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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Post by Joe Ribaudo » Wed Aug 03, 2011 11:37 am

Roy,

Some people have claimed that Gen. Custer and his brother Tom were both placed in the same shallow grave at Little Big Horn. Since then, GAC is said to have been buried in at least three different places. "Tom Custer was exhumed the next year and reburied in Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery."

I have two copies of an excellent account of Custer and the battle and have read it a number of times. I think it is good enough to read over again. It's called: "A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn". If you're interested, I would be happy to send you that extra copy.

Take care,

Joe

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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Post by pippinwhitepaws » Wed Aug 03, 2011 2:32 pm

here is a review of that book guys.

http://www.militaryhistoryonline.com/re ... glory.aspx

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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Post by Joe Ribaudo » Wed Aug 03, 2011 4:40 pm

Pip,

IMHO, Steven Christopher Ippolito writes a fair and even handed review of Donovan's book. Most historians/writers come down on the subject with personal bias's that usually show through in their work. In the end, he highly recommends the book.

Thanks for the link,

Joe

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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Post by Oroblanco » Wed Aug 03, 2011 7:31 pm

Joe - heck yes! Believe it or not that one is on my 'to get' list, but there is no need to mail it, if you can remember to bring it with you to the rendezvous, I will meet you there.

Pip - thank you for that link, sounds like a very interesting read for sure.
Roy

PS no progress to report on Billy Jackson, supposedly he did give an account of his version, haven't located it yet though. Beth did get me a copy of the full 26,000 word account of Peter Thompson in the original newspaper, it is a pretty interesting read and I can see why it seems to have been (almost) suppressed. He was not kind to Reno, Terry or Crook. One thing worthy of note however is that peculiar incident <seeing Custer ride over to a Crow whom had lassoed a Sioux woman, apparently getting the scout to release her> on Brown's "astonisher" site, on astonisher it makes it seem as if the incident occurred just before Custer's fight got going but if you read Thompson's full account it is about a half hour earlier. Still a strange incident though and not one of the Crow scouts ever admitted to it.
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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Post by Joe Ribaudo » Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:31 pm

Roy,

The incident you are referring to has many versions, some of them very ugly. I don't see Custer as a saint nor a monster. He was a product of his time. As such, it's hard for us to judge him.

When it came to a fight or battle, he was at the top of his class.......no matter where he finished at West Point. He lost at Little Big Horn, but who knows how the battle would have turned out if Reno and Benteen had followed his orders, or just done the right thing.

Take care,

Joe

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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Post by Oroblanco » Thu Aug 04, 2011 10:17 pm

Hi Joe,

I thought I would just copy and paste that incident, from Brown's site. Here is the extract from Thompson's account, Brown's commentary in red, Pvt Peter Thompson's words in blue:

Here is the whole story for the first time, including Medal of Honor winner Peter Thompson's account of apparently catching George A. Custer and Curley mid-rape on the first flat upriver from the ford at Medicine Tail Coulee minutes before Custer's delayed attack there.

We had not gone far, before we saw a sight that puzzled us very much. Coming out of the river was one of our Crow scouts, mounted on his horse with the end of a rawhide rope over his shoulder, which he held firmly in his right hand. At the other end of the rope, straining and tugging to get away, was a Sioux squaw. The rope was tied around both her hands, but, struggle as she might, she could not break away.

While looking on and wondering where the Crow was going we were further astonished by seeing General Custer dash out of the fording place and ride rapidly up to the Crow and commence to talk to him. Custer was well versed in several Indian languages. The conversation with the Indian did not last long, and what the nature of it was I do not know, but the Crow released the Sioux woman, and she seemed glad to be free came running towards us in a half stooping posture and in her hand was a long bladed knife of ugly dimensions. So fierce did she look that my hand involuntarily sought the handle of my revolver. She must have noticed the movement for she made a short circle around us, ran over the bank, crossed the river, and disappeared in the village.

The Crow then left Custer and rode in a jog trot towards the river and disappeared.
[Note: Custer apparently didn't like the looks of the ford at Medicine Tail Coulee (it required his men to cross four abreast) and so he quickly rode off for a quick "scout" while his men dismounted on the river bank, as White Shield and and Goes Ahead witnessed. After meeting Thompson and the Crow scout with the roped enemy squaw on the banks of the Little Bighorn -- and finding no better alternative crossing places -- the eye-witness record says Custer then returned to the ford at Medicine Tail Coulee in this scenario, tried to cross there, got shot by White Cow Bull, and died "in the water of the Little Bighorn." Or at least that's one plausible way to read the eye-witness record of the battle. However, there's also another, equally plausible but much, much darker read on the scene with Custer and the roped squaw, namely that Curley was Custer's procurer and they were both there to rape and murder the Sioux woman. See Who Killed Custer -- Part 11 "War Crime Time" for more info.]

Custer was mounted on his sorrel horse and it being a very hot day he was in his shirt sleeves; his buckskin pants tucked into his boots; his buckskin shirt fastened to the rear of his saddle; and a broad brimmed cream colored hat on his head, the brim of which was turned up on the right side and fastened by a small hook and eye to its crown. This gave him opportunity to sight his rifle while riding. His rifle lay horizontally in front of him; when riding he leaned slightly forward. This was the appearance of Custer on the day that he entered his last battle, and just one half hour before the fight commenced between him and the Sioux. When the Crow scout left him, he wheeled around and made for the same point in the river where we had first seen him. When he was passing us he slightly checked his horse and waved his right hand twice for us to follow him. He pointed down the stream, put spurs to his horse and disappeared at the ford, never uttering a word. That was the last I ever saw of Custer alive. He must have gone thence directly to his command. We wondered why none of his staff were with him. In all probability he had outrun them. His being alone shows with what fearlessness he travelled about even in an enemy's country with hostiles all around him.
============================================================
from http://www.astonisher.com/archives/muse ... ster_squaw posting an extract under the Fair Use clause, a portion of the article for discussion and educational purposes only. Thompson's account is long out of copyright, just difficult to locate the original.

Now Bruce Brown has inserted his commentary into Peter Thompson's account, which I have changed the color of his words so that you can see what the original text was. This was one of the more glaring examples of Brown's inserting that could be misleading to the reader who might not notice where the Thompson account ends and editor remarks begin. this is not the worst example, at least he put his comment/notes in brackets and said "note". Anyway it is a curious incident, one out of a number of queer moments, which not one of the Crows ever admitted to. However the fact that three of the Crows changed their stories in a marked way over the years, lends weight to the credence of this story. One more point on Bruce Brown's inserted notes to this portion of the Thompson account, he has clearly mis-identified what ford the incident occurred at, Medicine Tail ford is right next to the Custer battlefield at the lower end of the village, the incident clearly happened a half hour earlier and at the Reno ford, not Medicine Tail. While that may seem to clear things up, it actually just raises yet another question - why was Custer away from his battalions at that particular moment? Had he ridden back to look for the rest of the command, or to get his scouts, or,...?

Alternatively, if Brown has the right ford (Medicine Tail or Minneconjou) this raises multiple issues; for the incident occurred a half hour before the firing started in the Custer battle (not counting the Reno fight in the valley) and Thompson's horse must have played out practically AT the ford, so it should not have taken him so long to hike the rest of the way to rejoin Custer, and what were the five companies doing for that half hour with no firing, grazing their horses? I don't believe Brown has the right ford and may be bending the facts to fit his own theories a bit here.

I try not to judge the players of this drama, some is inevitable as human beings with our own ideas of right and wrong but you are right the times were quite different then. There were plenty of people who thought the best thing to do would be to wipe the plains Indians out man, woman and child in Custer's day and the Indians themselves were hardly a "civilized" enemy with plenty of brutal acts on their own part. As I mentioned before about Reno, I can't help but feel a bit sorry for him - even though militarily his behavior was less than sterling, maybe even punishable if all the facts had been brought forward but clearly he had become frightened or even unhinged, frightened while still charging down the valley into ordering a halt to the charge and form skirmish line, unhinged at that moment he had just asked Bloody Knife what the scouts were doing only to have brains splattered in his face. I can't honestly say that I would have done any better, and to have his own subordinate officers calling him a liar both under their breath and to his face could not but have pained him especially if he thought they were at least partly right. Nothing like rubbing salt in an open wound. The only sympathy I have for Custer lies in how history has been treating him, I think if he could choose his own death that he got exactly what he would have wished. As a commander his record is nothing like what he has been painted in recent decades, actually pretty impressive even as an Indian fighter where little glory or honor could be hoped for. I don't believe Custer was trying to rape a captured Sioux woman in the middle of a large battle, the very idea seems just a bit ridiculous to me.

Sorry for the long-winded post, thank you in advance for the book and for the very interesting replies and suggestions for more information, it has been very helpful to me. I hope that sometime I can repay you Joe and Pip. I look forward to your posts, and as always there is never any hurry. I hope you all have a very pleasant evening or day, depending on what time you may read this.
Roy
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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Post by Joe Ribaudo » Fri Aug 05, 2011 4:43 pm

Roy,

I had been to the site and was considering buying the online version. Still haven't pulled that trigger yet.

It certainly looks like it would be worthwhile, but there are soooo many crazy claims and stories about Custer that I am up to my eyeballs in the stuff.

Thanks for your post.

Take care,

Joe

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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Post by Oroblanco » Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:41 pm

Greetings,

Thank you for your patience! I am puzzled by the scout Billy Jackson. Thompson reported Watson's encounter with him on the north side of the river; Girard saw him in the timber, Godfrey saw him rejoin Reno with Girard on the hill after Weir's excursion, and on it goes. It seems that witnesses were seeing him all over the place. Watson saw Jackson's horse had been wounded, Girard did not mention it. Perhaps it might help to have a map and a written timeline, try to work out his movements and may end up doing that. If he was with Reno, how is it that he was seen on the "wrong" side of the river at all? If he did encounter Watson, how did he end up hiding in the timber with Girard, Derudio and the others? If he did not encounter Watson, why should Thompson make that part up, and why were the wounded soldiers on the Far West openly hostile to him? Any opinions are welcome, thank you in advance.
Roy
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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Post by Oroblanco » Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:46 am

Well sorry for killing the thread; still have not gotten to the bottom of the Billy Jackson story but some possibilities have arisen. It looks like the scout may have been Billy Cross even though Col Graham claims he never existed, and there are several witnesses who stated they saw Cross so Graham appears to have been mistaken. It may not be possible to determine this particular question to anyone's satisfaction at this distance in time.

Good luck and good hunting to you all, thank you all for the very interesting replies, suggestions for sources and tips. I hope you all find the treasures that you seek.
Oroblanco
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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Post by Joe Ribaudo » Thu Sep 22, 2011 1:05 pm

Roy,

There's no way that you "killed" this thread. Only real interest was the two of us, and I imagine we both got sidetracked by other research. I found the Billy Jackson question interesting, but only did a cursory search through my books.

Believe I will take it a little further.

Take care,

Joe

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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Post by pippinwhitepaws » Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:23 pm

not dead...sleeping...stunned...pining for the fjords.

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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Post by Oroblanco » Sun Sep 25, 2011 11:40 am

Pining for the fjords - after a prolonged squawk. :mrgreen: Pippin I didn't know you were a fellow Monty of the Python fan! <2 thumbs up>

On the Billy Jackson question I thought I had found the answer which would rule him out of that odd incident reported by Thompson (and Watson); for there are several witnesses who place him with Reno's men in the skirmish line, in the timber etc. Unfortunately this doesn't rule him out for that incident occurred quite early in the timeline, perhaps before Reno's men had even reached the skirmish line. Capt Moylan's request of Billy to try to carry a message to Custer was refused by Billy who told him no man could get through alive - yet even this may be a clue that it was indeed Billy Jackson for he may have had a strong desire NOT to see Custer again after that incident. Bottom line is that I have not been able to rule Billy Jackson out, it depends on IF the incident occurred early enough in the fight. If it happened at any time from the skirmish line being formed or later, then Billy Jackson can be ruled out as there are witnesses enough to place him with Reno, then with DeRudio and on to the hill with the rest but it looks like the odd shooting incident happened before Reno's charge was stopped or even before it had gotten well underway. Still looking though.
Roy
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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Post by Joe Ribaudo » Mon Sep 26, 2011 9:54 am

Roy,

I believe Jackson was hiding in the woods with three others for around 36 hours. Once the Sioux pulled back in preparation for leaving the Little Big Horn, the four of them left the woods and rode into Reno's command.
By then, Benteen was in command for all intents and purposes.

Had either man done what they should have done, there would have been a different outcome to the battle.
While there were plenty of mistakes to go around, including by Custer, I can guarantee you that if Reno or Benteen had been up on Custer Hill fighting for their lives, and Custer had been in Reno's little hidie-hole, he would have led a charge to the gunfire and saved the day.

Take care,

Joe

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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Post by pippinwhitepaws » Mon Sep 26, 2011 4:21 pm

"he would have led a charge to the gunfire and saved the day"

i used to believe this...but...out numbered, facing superior firepower, home field advantage...their women and children surrounded and frightened...recent memory of how the 7th treated indian women and children...

it was a good day to die

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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Post by pippinwhitepaws » Mon Sep 26, 2011 4:22 pm

( i really should tell the story of dale an i going to camelback plaza for the monty python film festival...the only two there with long hair an no tux...but we were ROLF the entire night. :mrgreen:

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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Post by Oroblanco » Mon Sep 26, 2011 8:00 pm

Greetings,
Joe you have Billy Jackson's story pretty close; my question is whether he could have been the scout encountered by Thompson and Watson with the very strange story. One well respected theorist/researcher denounced the story as "preposterous" that Custer should have fired a shot at Jackson, yet there are several incidents where Custer fired a shot in the directions of friends including his own brother. (During the 1874 Black Hills expedition, George and Tom separated from young Boston and fired two shots over Boston's head, which resulted in Boston gaining a great deal of speed.)

As mentioned earlier, I had thought Billy Jackson could be ruled out as there are witnesses who place him with Reno's command at the skirmish line and in the timber, and with DeRudio up until they rejoin Reno's command (under Benteen's effective leadership) but the incident reported by Thompson/Watson had occurred quite early in the timeline, before Reno's charge had fully developed. Was Billy Jackson with Custer, shortly before Reno's charge had reached the position where the skirmish line was ordered? I can't say for certainty - however Billy Cross does admit that he WAS on the same ridge with Custer, at an early point in the development of the fighting. Unfortunately Billy Cross's own account of events is chock-full of erroneous and faulty information. For examples, he listed both Reno and Lt Varnum among the killed, while both had survived. My suspicion still centers on Cross being the scout encountered by Thompson/Watson, but can't rule out Jackson just yet.
pippinwhitepaws wrote:"he would have led a charge to the gunfire and saved the day"

i used to believe this...but...out numbered, facing superior firepower, home field advantage...their women and children surrounded and frightened...recent memory of how the 7th treated indian women and children...

it was a good day to die
I am pretty sure that Custer would have made the attempt, regardless of numbers or how it might really turn out. However as logical as it may seem to conclude that all would have been wiped out, remember that with only seven companies <already reduced in numbers by his losses in the valley> and all the reserve ammo, Reno's men were assaulted by the entire force of warriors of the massive village for almost two full days without being able to destroy them. The ammo supply clearly was a major factor, perhaps a decisive one in Custer's loss. If all twelve companies had managed to form a junction with the ammunition reserve, while it is pretty certain that it would still count as a defeat, it seems probable that there would not have been any 'massacre' to debate years later. A few years previous to this battle, an even smaller force had been trapped and surrounded at Beecher's Island where (then) Col Forsyth with only fifty men had successfully stood off a force of plains Indians estimated at anywhere from 200 to 1500 for several days. Other examples of numerical superiority not resulting in a massacre would include the Wagon Box fight and the Hayfield fight; during the Powder River war - which war included the Fetterman massacre.

Another possible factor, relating to Pippin's point of it having been a good day to die, were the "suicide boys" (mostly Cheyennes but including at least one Sioux) whom had sworn to die in battle and had led the final charge on Custer's position. All were killed, so there were no suicide boys remaining for a charge on Reno's position. Perhaps if there had been a dozen or so suicide boys leading the charge against Reno and Benteen on the hill, the entire regiment might have been dead for Terry to find.
Roy
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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Post by Joe Ribaudo » Mon Sep 26, 2011 10:57 pm

Roy,

I am not sure that all of the "suicide boys" died in the battle. I think "many" was the terminology used.

Low Dog's yelling "This is a good day to die--follow me!" has been attributed to many of the other chiefs who were there, but I think it was all Low Dog. While it was a "good day" for many to die, Low Dog was not one of the dead. He finally came in to the reservation in 1881.

Shortly after, Sitting Bull was the last of the great chiefs to surrender, also in 1881.

One of Custer's biggest problems, was the fact that he was enraged by the crooked Indian agents who stole the natives blind. He testified, just before Little Big Horn, to Congress. President Grant's own brother in law and many in his administration were exposed by Custer. Grant never forgave him for that.

In truth, rather than killing everyone, he talked many of the tribes into surrendering. It is not all black and white, as many people believe.

Take care,

Joe

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Oroblanco
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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Post by Oroblanco » Mon Sep 26, 2011 11:58 pm

Howdy Joe, Pippin (and everyone),

The 'Friends of Little Bighorn Battlefield' has a decent article on the suicide boys, I was working from memory saying a "dozen" and mostly Cheyennes, though I am pretty sure that was what I read it could have been a source that was very pro-Cheyenne**;

http://www.friendslittlebighorn.com/gaz ... deboys.htm

<**as in tending to glorify the Cheyenne participation at the expense of the Lakota, as some tend to do the opposite>

This article says there were two dozen and mostly Sioux, but agrees that none survived after the battle on the Little Bighorn. I don't think Low Dog as a chief had been among those who took the suicide vows prior to the fight, for one he was a person with some authority and 'wealth' in Lakota terms while most suicide boys had virtually nothing. My only point in mentioning them at all was that they had helped lead an Indian assault on Custer's position, and there were none (other than Whirlwind who fell in the early stages of fighting with Reno) left to lead a similar charge on Reno's hill. Most warriors intended on living to tell of the battle so having even a handful with no fear of death to lead the charge and "take the shot" would help allow the mass of warriors following them to close to hand to hand combat.

Of course the whole subject of the suicide boys is open to debate, considering that not one Indian source mentioned them at all for decades after the battle. It is possible that this part of the story (suicide boys) has been a sort of glorification of fallen ancestors, much as we do with our dead heroes. A particular newspaper version of the Custer fight comes to mind, in which it had the long-haired hero leading his "four hundred" with golden locks streaming in the wind, sabers drawn in a gallant charge into a mass of 10,000 warriors etc. Is that the case with the story of the suicide boys? I don't know, but think there must be a germ of truth in it. Something was different between the Indians charging Custer's position, versus the same warriors charging Reno's, which could be that all of the suicide boys that had helped carry the fighting to hand range had all perished so none were available to attack Reno's position on the 26th. Reno's defensive position was certainly not noticeably better than Custer's, not just my opinion but that of several who surveyed the fields. Several felt that Reno's position in the timber was a superior defensive position and I have to agree. I have been there too but it was as a tourist, not with an eye to answering any questions other than wanting to see it. I plan to try to visit it when we make a trip there but have to obtain permission as it is (I believe) all private and posted land now.

Sorry for the long-winded post, got carried away as usual. Thank you both for the thought-provoking replies, and I look forward to reading your future posts. I hope you have a very pleasant evening.
Roy
"We must find a way, or we will make one." --Hannibal Barca

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