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American Age of Discovery, Colonization, Revolution, & Expansion Military history of North America. .

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  #46  
Old 23 Jun 16, 23:05
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Originally Posted by jf42 View Post
Not on 21st December, 1866.
"Anyone mention" Fetterman Massacre?
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  #47  
Old 24 Jun 16, 00:01
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Originally Posted by KRJ View Post
True, but is there any evidence it was planned that way? Was the double envelopment the result of either Gall or Crazy Horse being a master tactician executing a great tactical plan? Or was it simply the result of vastly superior Indian numbers where everybody had to go somewhere and they just ended up going all around?

I think it was a swarming mob. A brave and successful swarming mob but a swarming mob none the less.
I don't know, but whether it was a result of masterful tactics or a pure accident: it worked:- as Pruitt mentioned.
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  #48  
Old 24 Jun 16, 00:59
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Originally Posted by OpanaPointer View Post
He should have taken the Gatlings, which he had in inventory but declined to transport OR that coffeegrinder thingy.
They were Model 1866's. No traverse. Prone to jam. Different ammunition (.50/70), and not very field worthy. In short, they were a pos. Nobody used them in the field.

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  #49  
Old 24 Jun 16, 01:08
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Originally Posted by jf42 View Post
There does seem to be a touch of bitterness in how critics emphasise Crook's failings in dealing with the Plains tribes, coming as he did from successful dealings with the Apache in the the south west, which bore no comparison with the situation on the northern Plains

To what extent there were elements of jealousy or resentment towards Crook within the army, following his success in the southwest, I am not sure, but I wonder if that contributed to suggestions that he overreacted to the check on the Rosebud. Interesting to examine how the 5th Cavalry adapted in that regard on moving north from Arizona.

Utley presents Crook as retiring to the Tongue river forward base, shaken by the sustained aggression of the Indians over a six-hour fight and refusing to budge until he received reinforcements. Perhaps that was only sensible. Your observation regarding Crook's concerns over ammunition is interesting in that regard.

Crook had already clocked up a successful winter campaign (without losing a battalion to Indian counter-attack) and did manage not to get wiped out on the Rosebud, despite being caught unawares on a coffee break by an undetected Indian force in the neighbourhood. He was not outnumbered, so that outcome was perhaps not likely, but it seems he was lucky to get off as lightly as he did, although reports of casualties vary considerably (didn't they keep rolls these guys?).

He was not hampered by the hothouse tensions within a regimental column such as those suffered by the 7th Cavalry (admittedly the result of Custer's questionable command skills) and had good subordinates like Anson Mills in command of their own regimental detachments, who made good independent decisions, and he was very well served by his Indian auxiliaries.

Nonetheless, I feel Crook is not someone to dismiss lightly.
I don't want to come off as being too hard on Crook. Crook was a good officer for dealing with the various tribes in part because he did well with the carrot as well as the stick.

Also imho Crook was far better suited to a frontier command than Custer.
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  #50  
Old 24 Jun 16, 01:14
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Originally Posted by 101combatvet View Post
"Anyone mention" Fetterman Massacre?
Standing at the site of Fort Phil Kearny looking north at those hills, knowing what happened still gives me a sick feeling in my stomach. By the way they have been doing a good job upgrading exhibits at the old fort location. Even now you can get a little sense of how isolated it was as all you see are some pastures a couple ranch houses and the interstate.
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Old 24 Jun 16, 07:16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KRJ View Post
I think it was a swarming mob. A brave and successful swarming mob but a swarming mob none the less.
You lad, yes you at the back, stop messing about and pay attention! Everybody's seen that painting of Sitting Bull's vision of soldiers falling headfirst into the camp. What's less well known is the painting, made on the side of a wigwam, by Sitting Bull, Gall and Crazy Horse. It's an excellent example of a double envelopment with Custer's command caught between Gall and Crazy Horse!

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  #52  
Old 24 Jun 16, 09:29
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Originally Posted by Von Richter View Post
You lad, yes you at the back, stop messing about and pay attention! Everybody's seen that painting of Sitting Bull's vision of soldiers falling headfirst into the camp. What's less well known is the painting, made on the side of a wigwam, by Sitting Bull, Gall and Crazy Horse. It's an excellent example of a double envelopment with Custer's command caught between Gall and Crazy Horse!

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  #53  
Old 24 Jun 16, 11:48
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  #54  
Old 24 Jun 16, 12:49
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Nice map, but like some out there, it does not include all the tribal groups. You had a reservation group that were "just visiting" and a hostile group of each tribe that had never come in. The two groups were not always camped together. This is one reason there are so many different estimates of warriors present.

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  #55  
Old 22 Dec 16, 22:34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OpanaPointer View Post
He should have taken the Gatlings.
Why, so they could be broken down, and abbandoned along the way. Their is a reason no wagons or carts were brought with the 7th. One wagons work best on the roads of the Civil War, and the beaten trails of the settlement passages. Not on the unbeaten terrain of the Black Hills. It's more than likely they cart would have broken up just a day or two into the trekand been left in a creek somewhere.
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  #56  
Old 23 Dec 16, 12:26
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I think Opana is absolutely correct...

Those Gatlings would have saved Custer.

The clumsy contraptions would have slowed him down so much that the Indians would have dispersed before Custer arrived!
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  #57  
Old 23 Dec 16, 13:15
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Actually, IIRC, those things could be broken down and moved on pack mules, and they would have made all of the difference in the world. Might even have delayed Custer's death by several hours. Problem is he was up against well armed warriors who had learned to shoot straight in order to survive, and the gunners would have been prime targets...and he was still out-numbered some 10:1, so it all probably would have come down to how much ammo he had on hand, and we know he refused to wait for the Regimental trains to be brought up which included his artillery...and his reserve ammunition. Those Gatlings burned through a lot of ammo in a very short time, and the Indians would not have been slow targets marching into the guns, but very rapidly moving targets on widely divergent paths.

Interesting thought, though. Exactly how much additional force would Custer have needed to have survived, given his demonstrated ineptness at command and tactics?
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Old 23 Dec 16, 16:42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drusus Nero View Post
I think Opana is absolutely correct...

Those Gatlings would have saved Custer.

The clumsy contraptions would have slowed him down so much that the Indians would have dispersed before Custer arrived!
Which is just what he should have done.

As far as I can see, it was Crook that was intended to be the the slow-moving hammer that broke up the big gathering. They knew that something big was brewing, but the Army thought that was all they needed to know. Charge in, scare everyone and then take charge, simple.
Crook getting knocked back on his heels changed that.
Custer should have been the net cast to capture the strays, the broom used to gather up the fleeing tribes, and he was well equipped to do that. IIRC the 7th was the strongest Cavalry Regiment in the west. But instead...


One other thing I have heard; supposedly some Indians said that they were so tired and cranky by that day, that if Custer had simply lined up all 600 of his men on a ridge overlooking the camp and waited, that many of the Soux and most of the others would have been far more inclined to talk or even give it up. Given a chance to think it over, they probably would have fallen to fighting among themselves over what to do next.

Any truth to that?
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  #59  
Old 23 Dec 16, 17:04
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Originally Posted by The Exorcist View Post
Which is just what he should have done.

As far as I can see, it was Crook that was intended to be the the slow-moving hammer that broke up the big gathering. They knew that something big was brewing, but the Army thought that was all they needed to know. Charge in, scare everyone and then take charge, simple.
Crook getting knocked back on his heels changed that.
Custer should have been the net cast to capture the strays, the broom used to gather up the fleeing tribes, and he was well equipped to do that. IIRC the 7th was the strongest Cavalry Regiment in the west. But instead...


One other thing I have heard; supposedly some Indians said that they were so tired and cranky by that day, that if Custer had simply lined up all 600 of his men on a ridge overlooking the camp and waited, that many of the Soux and most of the others would have been far more inclined to talk or even give it up. Given a chance to think it over, they probably would have fallen to fighting among themselves over what to do next.

Any truth to that?
The Gatlings would have saved Custer because as their teams were horses condemned for cavalry service, they would have slowed him down long enough for the plan to actually have worked.

If they had miraculously arrived with the 7th, given the terrain and the mobile nature of the fight they would have had no effect. If they were with Custer or Reno they would have been in bad terrain amidst charges which quickly reversed themselves. If they were with Benteen they would have been on the bluff, but the Indians weren't inclined to charge entrenched cavalry, so they weren't going to do much there.

The Indians were gathered at the Little Big Horn for a grand council, the last of its kind ever to be seen on the Plains. They thought they were safely out of reach of the Army there.

They were meeting to decide what should be done. The bison were evaporating under the guns of the buffalo hunters, the Army would not back down, and whites were flooding into their territory. Hardliners like Sitting Bull and Gall wanted to fight on, others wanted to go as a group and negotiate a better deal than they had been getting so far. Notably absent was Red Cloud, widely regarded by the northern tribes as the best war chief they had left alive. Red Cloud had refused to leave the reservation.

It is hard to say what they would have done had Custer just arrived and made himself known. Sitting Bull, Gall, and Crazy Horse would certainly want to fight, but others would not be so included, and still others were not fond of stand-up fights with the bluecoats.

But Custer, besides being a glory-hungry idiot, knew nothing about Indians. He had exactly one skirmish and one attack on a village to his credit. He attacked the village, which given previous events caused the Indians to expect a massacre of women and children, so their response was all-out.

The Plains Indians to this day, amongst ourselves, see that day on the Greasy Grass as the end. No one really knew who Custer was before that day, but afterward he is seen as the bringer of the Indian downfall. When Custer's bungling got half the 7th Cavalry killed, every Indian knew it was over. They knew their chances of negotiation were finished. Sitting Bull, the ill-tempered blowhard, fled to Canada. Crazy Horse surrendered and was murdered with the help of a man he considered his friend. Only Gall died fighting.

Red Cloud lived to see (actually mostly blind by then) the 7th get revenge at Wounded Knee, after Sitting Bull was killed by his own tribe.

So yes, if Custer had hung back, or better yet had followed orders and arrived with Terry, I think there was a chance that the Little Big Horn would be remembered as the place the Plains Indians negotiated their peace.
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Old 23 Dec 16, 17:20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnold J Rimmer View Post
The Gatlings would have saved Custer because as their teams were horses condemned for cavalry service, they would have slowed him down long enough for the plan to actually have worked.

If they had miraculously arrived with the 7th, given the terrain and the mobile nature of the fight they would have had no effect. If they were with Custer or Reno they would have been in bad terrain amidst charges which quickly reversed themselves. If they were with Benteen they would have been on the bluff, but the Indians weren't inclined to charge entrenched cavalry, so they weren't going to do much there.

The Indians were gathered at the Little Big Horn for a grand council, the last of its kind ever to be seen on the Plains. They thought they were safely out of reach of the Army there.

They were meeting to decide what should be done. The bison were evaporating under the guns of the buffalo hunters, the Army would not back down, and whites were flooding into their territory. Hardliners like Sitting Bull and Gall wanted to fight on, others wanted to go as a group and negotiate a better deal than they had been getting so far. Notably absent was Red Cloud, widely regarded by the northern tribes as the best war chief they had left alive. Red Cloud had refused to leave the reservation.

It is hard to say what they would have done had Custer just arrived and made himself known. Sitting Bull, Gall, and Crazy Horse would certainly want to fight, but others would not be so included, and still others were not fond of stand-up fights with the bluecoats.

But Custer, besides being a glory-hungry idiot, knew nothing about Indians. He had exactly one skirmish and one attack on a village to his credit. He attacked the village, which given previous events caused the Indians to expect a massacre of women and children, so their response was all-out.

The Plains Indians to this day, amongst ourselves, see that day on the Greasy Grass as the end. No one really knew who Custer was before that day, but afterward he is seen as the bringer of the Indian downfall. When Custer's bungling got half the 7th Cavalry killed, every Indian knew it was over. They knew their chances of negotiation were finished. Sitting Bull, the ill-tempered blowhard, fled to Canada. Crazy Horse surrendered and was murdered with the help of a man he considered his friend. Only Gall died fighting.

Red Cloud lived to see (actually mostly blind by then) the 7th get revenge at Wounded Knee, after Sitting Bull was killed by his own tribe.

So yes, if Custer had hung back, or better yet had followed orders and arrived with Terry, I think there was a chance that the Little Big Horn would be remembered as the place the Plains Indians negotiated their peace.
Excellent points, except that this
Quote:
The Gatlings would have saved Custer because as their teams were horses condemned for cavalry service, they would have slowed him down long enough for the plan to actually have worked.
contradicts the rest of your line of reasoning because Custer was never after peace, but intent on destroying all Indians to promote his greater glory.

Quite frankly, I doubt Custer had the wisdom to properly deploy those Gatlings to begin with, and his troopers, including those vital Gatling gunners, were largely inexperienced in the kind of warfare seen in the West.
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