Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

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Thomas Glover
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Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Postby Thomas Glover » Wed Aug 02, 2006 4:25 pm

Since many of the members of the Forum are not only interested in the Dutchman, but also general Western history I have posted some photos taken this year on our holiday. There is one set of the Custer Battlefield and another of Virginia City, Montana.

The Custer Battlefield:

What impressed me was the size and scope of the battlefield, the distances covered that day. White stone markers are placed where soldiers fell. The markers were originally grave markers, but the soldier's remains were moved to a mass grave at the top of the hill where the Last Stand was made. These markers are where the soldiers fell.

There are rose-colored stone monuments for a few of the Amerindians where the place they fell and their names are known. Where it is known that unidentified Amerindians fell there are metal rods with small red flags. Gazing across the battlefield the waving of those flags catches the eye. Behind the hill where the Last Stand was made is a monument to the Native Americans who fell that day. There is also a mass grave for the horses. What I had never heard or known before is that there is also a regular military cemetery on the site, which was only closed within the last several years. It is a most interesting place, and with all the tourists you can almost forget the solemnity and power of the place. Almost, but not really.

Virginia City

It is a remarkably well-preserved old west Victorian gold mining town (20 miles west of Yellowstone National Park, 90 miles by road). For many years Virginia City, Montana was a Rebel town in Union territory. It is famous for at least three things: its state of preservation, gold, and vigilantes.

Unlike most Western Towns it avoided a major fire. There was just enough gold after the big mines shut down to keep the town alive, but not enough to improve it. Then in the 1940s Charles and Sue Bovey bought much of the town and essentially sealed stores and other buildings that had set idle for decades. As a result many of the stores, although restored, are time capsules with their original fixtures and fittings, and in many cases their original stock. Some are better preserved – the blacksmith shop shows the ravages of time worse than most other sites, but the General Store could be walked into by a miner from the 1800s and he would be right at home.

The original gold discovery was in 1863, and I was told that between 1863 and 1873 $100,000 in gold (at $20/oz) was taken out of just the placer diggings.

Henry Plummer was the sheriff of the nearby town of Bannack, Montana. He was also the leader of a gang of highwaymen, murders and maybe worse. In the lawlessness of the town citizens formed a vigilante committee and freely used “judge lynch”. They eventually got fed up with Plummer and hung him and three of his agents. The rest of Plummers gang seem to have left for other parts. These particular vigilantes are famous/infamous in Western history. Whether they were heroes ridding the area of the likes of the Plummer gang, or using their power to eliminate anyone they found objectionable (including one man who apparently had a pardon from the governor in his pocket when they hung him) is still much debated today.

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Postby don » Thu Aug 03, 2006 1:27 am

mr glover, thanks for the photos,particularly of the custer battlefield,prob the most interesting post made on here ,the "ravine" seems to have eroded an awful lot since i last visited (78-79) its not really at all how i remember it,ill have to dig out my photos taken back then to compare.must admit i never noticed the indian markers while there either...anyway thanks
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Ravine

Postby Thomas Glover » Thu Aug 03, 2006 8:29 am

Don,

Thanks for your post. It made me check and there were two photos that I forgot to upload: a close up of the ravine and the one showing where Custer died. I have now uploaded them.

Thomas

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Postby TGH » Mon Aug 07, 2006 9:47 am

I highly recommend THE MYSTERY OF E TROOP by Gregory Michino for a thoughtful analysis of what may or may not have happened in the area of Deep Ravine. It casts the battle in a little different light and theorizes that the ravine where the 28 bodies of E Troop were found was not Deep Ravine at all. Makes perfect sense when you read it through.

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Postby don » Mon Aug 07, 2006 1:58 pm

i wasnt aware of any alternative theories regarding the ravine location.i think its pretty well documented where the 22-28 m3en (mostly of e troop died) captain mcdougall stated" in the ravine i dfound most of the troop,who had used the upper sides of the ravine for kind of breastwork" i believe he testified to this at the reno court of enquiry.captain moylan noted the marks where the troopers had tried to scramble up the other side.de rudio said similiar. the only real mystery is how first lietenant algernon smith (commander of e troop) was found on custer hill.when i last visited the site in 78 there was not 1 grave marker in deep ravine where witnesses recalled finding the dead. the sole reason for that,so im told, is that sweets detail didnt erect any there in 1890,pure and simple. there are photos of deep ravine taken at the time,or rather shortly afterwards, and though the terrain has changed somewhat,through erosion and whatever. its the same ravine....sounds to me someones trying to make a mystery out of nothing......still thats about par for the course these days.......
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Postby count » Mon Aug 07, 2006 2:08 pm

<iframe src="http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=hotelsandmote-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=0878423044&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&lc1=0000ff&bc1=000000&bg1=ffffff&f=ifr" scrolling="no" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" frameborder="0"></iframe>

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Postby don » Mon Aug 07, 2006 2:14 pm

yes quite, the reviews werent very complimentary in the main i see,another book to add to my "ignore" list :lol:
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Postby TGH » Wed Aug 09, 2006 9:11 am

If you are interested in the battle, you should read Michino's book.

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Good Book

Postby Joe Ribaudo » Wed Aug 09, 2006 4:06 pm

Nice recomendation. It's a good book.

For details on the graves and where the bodies were found, you might want to take a look at "In Remembrance: Archaeology and Death" by, David Poirier and Nicholas Bellantoni.....A fine Irish lad. :lol:

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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Postby Oroblanco » Sat Apr 30, 2011 2:24 pm

I realize this thread has been dormant a rather long time, but if anyone has anything to say on the subject I am interested in reading it. Thank you Dr Glover for having started the thread, sorry I did not find it until so late and I look forward to any and all replies. Thank you in advance,
Oroblanco
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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Postby Joe Ribaudo » Sat Apr 30, 2011 3:59 pm

Roy,

I was hoping that Thomas would help this topic along, since he started it. I neve asked him about it, but I assume he was not really all that interested.

On the other hand, I am very interested in the history of Custer and the battle of Little Big Horn. I have a few signed first editions on the subject by various authors.

The following books are pretty good: "Crazy Horse and Custer" by Stephen Ambrose; "Archaeology, History and Custer's Last Battle" by Richard Allan Fox, Jr.;
"Little Big Horn" by Robert Nightengale and "Lakota Noon" also by Gregory Michno who's "The Mystery Of E Troop" recommended by Peter earlier in this thread is one of the best I have read.

Two other book I have on the topic are "A Terrible Glory....." by James Donovan and "Son of the Morning Star: Custer and the Little Bighorn" by Evan Connell.
A number of these authors have included the story from the Indian's side, with "Lakota Noon" probably being the best.

My own memory is a train wreck, so I know how you must feel without your books at hand. If there is any aspect of the battle you would like to discuss, I would be more than happy to travel down that road with you.

Take care,

Joe

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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Postby Oroblanco » Sat Apr 30, 2011 6:02 pm

Greetings Joe <and anyone reading this>
This is a very long reply so I have to ask your patience, thank you in advance.

Thank you for your reply and the suggested books. I have some of those you listed, but only one I can actually touch (Son of the Morning Star) and in that particular case find fault with the way the book is composed. It is good on many counts so I don't wish to get into a round of trashing Connell over his writing, but having recently re-read it found that is more disjointed than memory had it. One other I no longer own (Crazy Horse & Custer, lent out and lost) if I remember correctly was excellent, and I would buy it again when the budget allows for replacing lost books.

There are literally hundreds of books on Custer and the Little Bighorn, the majority being written well after fact so fall into a lessor category for source material in my view. The amount of material available is very large so one may find source material to support almost any contention one could desire to take, except perhaps to tie in the Lost Dutchman to it and even then there are enough Dutchmen involved as to allow even that to be constructed. I could suggest a few that you might enjoy as well, "Custer, Cavalier in Buckskin" by Robert M. Utley, whom I credit for a most unbiased approach to writing history <in my opinion>, or "Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee" by Dee Brown for an Indian viewpoint of the period. I do own both of these as well but cannot get at them yet. An interesting website with a large collection of eyewitness accounts (for anyone so interested) is at:

http://www.astonisher.com/archives/museum/index_full.html

The author/owner of the site appears to have a strong bias in favor of the Indians, and to my view somewhat anti-American but the collection itself is pretty good.

I don't have a particular position to expound and propose, really would like to hear (read) your own views, comments and issues that strike you (or anyone who cares to respond) as interesting. If you would like me to toss out a particular for comment, allow me to raise the issue of the carbines issued to the cavalry; the 1873 Springfield 'trapdoor' in 45-70 caliber, but actually used in 45-55 caliber due to complaints about recoil in the original loading. Do you believe the carbines being single shot, were a major factor in the battle? What about the caliber itself, do you find fault with it? Thank you in advance, and I will likely have questions to ask you on, as I know you have those volumes 'at hand' so can look any particular up with ease. However I first have to recollect what is IN them in order to ask, not easy for me! One in particular I do not own and have never read, "The Mystery Of E Troop" and I would like to know what conclusions were arrived at, concerning whom was in command of the troop in the Deep Ravine? No rush to look that up, whenever time and inclination should allow, thank you again.

I only recently learned that my personal favorite author in this topic (Robert M. Utley) is still alive and kicking, and resides in Scottsdale AZ - I wonder if he could be induced to attend one of the Dutch Hunters Rendezvous? Just speculating of course, he may have no interest in all things Dutchman.
Roy

PS we are having a rather breezy day here (sustained winds of 60 mph) so find myself with time to spend indoors, will stay signed in here but may be absent off and on.
"We must find a way, or we will make one." --Hannibal Barca

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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Postby pippinwhitepaws » Sun May 01, 2011 5:18 pm

i am sure you know more about the battle than i...but...

it has been proven that from the moment of first contact on june 25th...custer's battle was around 2 1/2 miles of RUN AWAY!!!!!!

last stand hill was where the last of the men died...but not a Last Stand...

the ravine was problematic the day the relief column showed up...several bodies found at the top of the ravine "suggested" others in the brush...but the reality is one body is found a few years ago...not the popular story.

a sad day in american history...for both sides.

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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Postby Oroblanco » Sun May 01, 2011 5:33 pm

pippinwhitepaws wrote:i am sure you know more about the battle than i...but...

<snip>

a sad day in american history...for both sides.


Greetings my friend Pippin,
I don't agree about my knowing any more than you do about this, and our discussion is not a contest on that grounds (I hope) for no 'white' survivors lived to tell what happened from that viewpoint anyway. Thank you for your interest and reply. What do you think about the carbines used by the cavalry? Do you think they were a major factor in the outcome? Thank you in advance,
Oroblanco
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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Postby pippinwhitepaws » Sun May 01, 2011 9:23 pm

firearms were a factor...but the natives only had a few firearms...though most of them were repeaters, i sunderstand..
i have never fired a .51 so i have no clue as to how it handles...but...the national momument people have done several digs around the area...done forensics on the rounds found...and can follow US issue weapons as they changed hands...i think the issue weapons functioned as planned...
custer shot himself..and those in his column...in the foot...left his modern firepower and supply train behind...then split the mounted column...
i think there is a moment when custer sighted the camp... at what lay before him as he first sighted the encampment...this moment after he began his charge into the coolie...
i think reno an benteen were at least honest when they retreated and dug in...but custer's charge had strung his men out...they never had a chance to fall back into a cohesive defensive unit..the final stand is a myth.
the native accounts are un-american...winners write the history...
historians did document the native perspective of the battle...as they came in to the reservations, most were interviewed as to what happened at the greasy grass...
remember crook turned back...wouldn't go near the little big horn...
crook rode a mule against the apaches' cochise and geronimo...and he turned back from the little big horn?
big mysteries from that time that historians still are a bit reluctant to deal with is my opinion...
500 of the 7th cav with a battery of gattlings, should have rolled over 1500 single combat warriors with maybe 400 firearms...the rest used clubs stone tipped spears and arrows...and of course...knives.
sorry for the disjointed reply...

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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Postby Oroblanco » Sun May 01, 2011 11:40 pm

Thank you Pippin; I believe most of the carbines were of 45-70-405 caliber but actually using 45-55-405 ammo. The carbine being a single shot type action, with some tendency to jam when hot, has been proposed as a major factor in the defeat. Tests run at Sandy Hook in 1879 were rather impressive for the very long range and accuracy of the Springfield trapdoor rifles using the original 45-70, but the 45-55 ammo had a much shorter range. Several survivors from Reno's battalion reported their bullets falling short of the Indians during the charge made by Reno, while the Indians were able to hit them from that distance (over 600 yards away, see Lt Godfrey's article in 'Century' mag and the Reno court of inquiry text, which I will post a link to for anyone interested).

**Concerning the Indians ability to hit the soldiers in the skirmish line, it seems likely that in those instances a few Indians were firing buffalo rifles used for hunting; not that there were any large number of them in their hands but even a few could make a difference. Several such rifles were used on the 26th in the fight on Reno's hill, one of which was recovered after the battle.**

The ammo was quite a little mystery for me as I could not imagine what reason there was, for issuing ammunition loaded with less powder than what the rifles were designed for, but found the answer in the board report done when the trapdoor was officially adopted 1873; the soldiers firing the carbine with fully loaded ammunition (with the full 70 grains of powder) complained about a rather ferocious kick or recoil, especially when firing while mounted and that makes sense. The carbine weighs 7.3 pounds and has a shorter barrel, the rifle weighs 8.8 pounds; weight helps to offset recoil so I can imagine that the carbine would have quite a kick. Uberti has excellent photos of the reproductions they sell at:

http://www.uberti.com/firearms/springfield_trapdoor.php

The copper cases used for the 45-55 ammo also was an issue, for it tended to develop a 'verdigris' coating of crud from carrying in the leather ammo belts and this could cause a jam; also the copper cases were softer than the brass usually found in ammunition so could expand in the chambers of the weapon on firing, jamming in place and had to be removed by prying out with a knife or thumbnail as the carbines had no ramrod for the purpose.

The annual report by the Army Engineers for 1876 found fault with the carbines issued to the cavalry and suggested they were a major factor for the defeat; that report states that the carbine's single shot action meant that Indians armed with repeating rifles could fire five shots to the soldiers one, and that since the ammunition had to be reduced in power the trapdoor's main advantage of long range was lost making it no greater range than the repeating rifles used by the hostiles. I don't know if I can agree with that summation for the carbine still could reach out to 600 yards with some accuracy, while the Winchesters, Henrys and Spencers were really only considered to be effective out to 200 yards.

Another argument against the trapdoor being "the" major problem is that many Indians picked up the carbines lost by the soldiers killed in battle and proceeded to use them against Reno's position. If they were so inferior, it is not logical that the Indians would choose to use them against Reno rather than their own

On the other hand, I am sure that the carbines being single shot would certainly be a matter of discouragement in the firefight; in other battles through history when one side is armed with single shot weapons while the opponent uses repeating arms, the rate of fire cannot be matched and it is psychologically demoralizing not to be able to match the fire of your enemy. In the plains Indian wars we could point to several such battles, as at the Wagon Box fight during the Powder River war, (1868) the soldiers in that case had repeating rifles while the Sioux and Cheyennes had mostly muzzleloaders, and it resulted in the casualties being one-sided. Long range rifles also can be said to be a major factor too, the second battle of Adobe Walls as an instance where long range hunting rifles (buffalo guns) in the hands of the defenders were able to pick off the attackers at tremendous distances, which was disheartening for the attackers.

Sorry for getting carried away on this detail, it is one of many issues in the history of this battle that are quite complicated. It is a part of our history and sad indeed; in a very real way it was a second "civil war" as we were fighting our neighbors and in some cases relative against relative; Kate Bighead for instance claimed that Custer's body was not mutilated as much as others because the Cheyenne women claimed him as a relative for his marriage to a Cheyenne woman, Mitch Bouyer's mother was Santee Sioux, Bloody Knife's father was Hunkpapa Sioux. As Major Reno wrote in his official report on the battle;

The harrowing sight of the dead bodies crowning the height on which Custer fell, and which will remain vividly in my memory until death, is too recent for me not to ask the good people of this country whether a policy that sets opposing parties in the field, armed, clothed, and equipped by one and the same Government should not be abolished.
http://www.littlebighorn.info/Articles/renorep.htm

Any further thoughts on the issues of the Springfield carbines or the ammunition are welcome, thank you in advance.
Oroblanco

PS Here is that site with the 1879 Reno court of inquiry about the battle;
http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/History.Reno
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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Postby Somehiker » Mon May 02, 2011 12:55 am

Many used book stores have old back issues of National Geographic.
The Dec.1986 volume has an excellent article on the subject.

Regards:SH.
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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Postby Somehiker » Mon May 02, 2011 1:01 am

The article.
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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Postby Somehiker » Mon May 02, 2011 1:11 am

A few snaps from a day spent there in Aug. 1972.
Other than a small visitor center/museum,there was only a (KOA?)campground across the highway from the Monument,at the time.

Regards:SH.
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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Postby Oroblanco » Mon May 02, 2011 7:59 pm

Greetings,
Thank you Somehiker - the battlefield has not changed all that much since you took those pics, at least the last time I saw it the main building may be bigger and the parking lot but most of it doesn't change much. There was an incident when they were enlarging the parking lot a few years back when the remains of a soldier killed in the Fetterman massacre were found, which really had me scratching my head for I could not imagine how he ended up there but it turned out that the Army had moved some of them to the Custer cemetery and that was how.

Any thoughts on the aspects of the carbines used by the cavalry that day? Your opinion(s) are what I am looking for, there is quite a good deal of information available from 1873 to today; but I would like to know what effect(s) if any those carbines had whether positive, negative or no real difference as you see it. Thank you in advance,
Oroblanco

Postscript, I forgot to address the other subject of this thread - Virginia City; Beth and I very nearly purchased a place there years ago and LOVED that area. The city itself looks not far different from the photos from the 1800's and the people very friendly. The only thing that prevented us from having moved there permanently was that the seller could not come down in price at all, and we could not raise any more than our offer so had to let it go. Still love that area and plan to visit it again in future. Outside of town are huge tailings fields from where the dredges ran, those gulches ran gold amigos and remains very beautiful. We may still have a few photos shot there, taken during our attempt to buy a home and now well out of date but like the Custer battlefield it doesn't change much over time.
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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Postby pippinwhitepaws » Mon May 02, 2011 8:46 pm

i still haven't traveled up north...perhaps someday.

the rifle...i knew i had read an account of how the weapon was blamed for the disaster on the greasie grass...

http://www.rifleshootermag.com/featured ... ndex2.html

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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Postby Oroblanco » Mon May 02, 2011 9:00 pm

pippinwhitepaws wrote:i still haven't traveled up north...perhaps someday.

the rifle...i knew i had read an account of how the weapon was blamed for the disaster on the greasie grass...

http://www.rifleshootermag.com/featured ... ndex2.html


So what do you think Pip? Do you think the rifles were a major factor, minor factor or no real effect on the outcome? I am not trying to 'corner' you or anyone on the issue and have no position on it myself, just curious about your own opinions, and any explanation you might wish to share. Thank you in advance and for the link!
Oroblanco
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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Postby Joe Ribaudo » Mon May 02, 2011 11:14 pm

Roy,

I'm by no means an expert on the battle, but I have done a great deal of reading on the subject. I have already mentioned most of the books I have read on this historic battle. The book I put the most faith in is, "Archaeology, History and Custer's Last Battle" by Richard Allan Fox, Jr.

Even though there are hundreds of books on the battle at Little Big Horn, most of the sources are somewhat unreliable. Many of the Indian witnesses changed their stories depending on what they thought their white interrogators wanted to hear.The army witnesses had the added bias of trying to make themselves look as good as possible for the sake of their careers and professional pride.

In addition to that, officers like Benteen knew that their words would become part of the history of the America.

While I believe it's true that the repeaters that the Indians had, around 207, played an important part of Custer's defeat, they did not win the battle with Benteen. In addition to their .44-caliber repeaters, the warriors against Benteen also had Custer's carbines, Colt pistols and a great deal of captured ammunition.

I would guess that the battlefield terrain had more to do with Custer's defeat than anything else.

If you read all of the many accounts of that battle, you will find that there were between 1,500 and 10,000 warriors involved in the battle of Little Big Horn. All of the other "facts" follow that same degree of clarity.

Fox digs, pardon the pun, into the evidence that was left on and in the battlefield for his conclusions. He does not ignore the human accounts, but explains why they were less than reliable. I would highly recommend his book for anyone researching the history of Custer's last fight.

Close proximity to the enemy is a major factor in what defeated Custer.

Just one man's opinion.

Take care,

Joe

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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Postby Oroblanco » Tue May 03, 2011 12:22 am

Greetings Joe (and everyone),
This is another long-winded reply, so I beg your indulgence, thank you in advance.

Thank you for your recommendation on Fox's book, I have added it to my list. While I am a fairly fast reader, the amount of material available on this topic is voluminous to say the least. Just one report for instance, on the Red Cloud agency investigation (1875) was over 900 pages but had to be taken into account.

<you wrote>
Close proximity to the enemy is a major factor in what defeated Custer.

Just one man's opinion.


I am in agreement on several points you have made, from the wide disparity in the information and 'coloring' found in the various accounts from eyewitnesses, to the proximity to the village being a major factor. It seems that whatever force appeared to the Indians to be the greatest threat to the village got the most attention in turn. Ie, first Reno, then Custer, then Reno again.

As for any conclusions made based on archaeological finds, I have much less confidence than you do. This particular battlefield is perhaps the most picked-over battlefield on the planet, even during the fight there was picking up of items and this leads to quite possibly very erroneous assumptions when those missing items are not accounted for. The warriors picked up weapons, articles of clothing, ammunition and even spent cartridges for reloading and this fact was noted even in the 1879 inquiry. Even reading information from the trails left by the horses could be misleading - the tracks of shod horses could have been done by Indians after having captured them or the horses simply running loose, and from the 27th on, many cavalry horses were tramping around the hills. Not to dismiss the archaeology out of hand, however there are reasons to be very cautious about making any conclusions based on what is found and not found. I could point to the repeating rifles issue for instance, with evidence that well over 1000 had been sold to the same Indians in the two years previous to 1876, to suggest that there must have been more than 207 in their hands. In fact I am fairly certain the number was more than 207. One shipment of Winchesters and Remingtons alone was over 1200 rifles and over 400,000 rounds of factory loaded ammo, and that during the 1876 campaign no less That is beside the point however.

I also do not dismiss the many witness accounts out of hand either; it is true that in many cases the witness account was affected by the interviewer. Often it is apparent that the interviewer was leading his questions in the direction he must have believed it "should" be. Even Walter Camp, for all his diligence in collecting eyewitness accounts, left in his notes some of his own assumptions whenever the testimony did not "seem right" to him ("preposterous" being a favorite term he used) There are clear patterns in the accounts however and less contradictions than might be supposed, if read carefully and without making a presumption about what it "should" say. The story that comes out is more complex and different from any I have seen published or portrayed on the silver screen, anywhere. That includes Natl Geo. and the History channel.

Opinions are very interesting to me, and I thank you for sharing yours on this subject. I hope that no one will ask for my own in return, for I am not settled on almost any issue of this. About the only thing that I feel confident of is that the story as you get it from the evidence, does not fit the way it has been presented in any source I have found. I am now working on a book on the subject so am "fishing" for opinions in particular, as I want to know what people believe about this. The market is pretty well flooded and I am no recognized expert on the subject so I realize this could be a huge effort in futility; but it is <for me> very interesting and I won't feel right until these bits are brought to light even if no publisher will take it. So far it has been pretty surprising on several issues. I had <mistakenly> thought I had a good handle on it until I started digging, now have to make another visit to the battlefield just to see if what I read is true or false. Thankfully it is only a day's drive there from home so won't break the budget.

Thank you again (and in advance to anyone who will wade in with opinions) I look forward to all replies.
Roy
"We must find a way, or we will make one." --Hannibal Barca

pippinwhitepaws
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Re: Custer Battlefield and Virginia City, Montana

Postby pippinwhitepaws » Tue May 03, 2011 1:45 pm

opinions...

well...i find it curious that crook ran back to the fort...leaving a three pronged search and destroy mission underhanded...while he did inform custer by runner...too little too late...
the rifles? ...it seems that the later version of this rifle did have a good reputation among it's users...though it was reported on that link i posted that the 7 th was using less powder in the rounds...since, pulling the trigger on a full load could dismount the men?
faults do appear in new versions of old designs...turning a muzzle loader into a trap door or falling block sure saved on making new barrels for a decade.
i know little of this weapon...
i do believe that custer's troops had small chance to use that weapon as it was designed...an then it was in desperation...not dug in defense positions...and you have dug in that area during the dry periods...that earth is hard...shallow fighting pits and dead horses was the cover at hand...

i think how ever many warriors were...the natives were taken by suprise...first and foremost...taken by suprise, by a troop they had fought prior...the native accounts all point to being suprised and in 'total reaction to events' syndrom...
no crazie horse planning a beautifully fought ambush...
no..it was bluecoats over there>>>>>run
no...over there>>>>run
the entire nature of the natives that day, by warrior accounts...was to get away from the 7th...fast.
yes, they ran into battle and won...but they only wanted to slow the 7th so the families could get away.

someone had superior firepower that day...and it was not custer.
was it the weapon? was it the terrian?
was it the psych-op nature of seeing the largest village ever reported, an a bizzilon wild men running around attempting to protect their children and families?

custer sure did have an intelligence failure...
and i believe the moment he saw the village that morning...he balked...he suddenly knew that he could not drive through to benteen or reno...or the blue sky...he lost cohesiveness during the charge...never regained it...'every man for himself ', is selecting death when surrounded...yes there are reports of stiff fighting...in pockets...a few men here, some there...no last stand hill...perhaps, 'couldn't run any farther hill' would be more appropiate.
please do not constru that i hold the 7th in contempt...they fought as well as they could...hot, tired, outnumbered, driven by a man who's motivation is suspect...the other segments of custer's command survived that day...surely beat into defensive postions...but alive...what happened to custer? he did not get closer to the village then reno or benteen, yet, was surrounded an mauled?
the military has a term...cluster something...