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  #136  
Old 29 Jul 13, 17:10
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Originally Posted by MontanaKid View Post
I should ad here something I recently read in a letter from "Little Autie" Reed, who wrote his mother that the beef herd had been mostly consumed by time they got very far into Montana, and that he, assigned to the Dakota Column as a beef herder, had little to do. So the seventh was running out of its fresh meat ration. It could only be transported live on the hoof. Without the fresh beef, rations were salt pork, hardtack and coffee. Hardtack was their principal source of carbs. Besides it's other properties, the coffee was needed to make the hardtack chewable. It was basically a thick cracker made with unleavened flour. It was packed big square tin boxes and much of it was baked during the civil war. To the soldiers, it seemed hard as a rock.
Sometimes they soaked the hard tack in water and then mashed it into a sort of pudding into which they tossed other stuff to eat.
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  #137  
Old 29 Jul 13, 18:24
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Originally Posted by MontanaKid View Post
I think most who follow the battle accept that Custer was wise to leave the Gatlings. Reno took one along and they had to unlimber it (take it apart) often to haul it up hills. The pack train was slower, mostly because of untrained troops. But Reno found the Gatling even slower. The Gatlings would have saved Custer only in that with them, the village would have been gone.

Plus even if there, people rate the Gatling too high. We are too used to old movies showing the Gatlings mowing down rows of circling Indians. In reality, it never happened. Even modern machine gum positions can be overrun by determined warriors and the warriors on June 25, 1876 were very determined. And the Gatling was no modern machine gun. It was mounted on artillery wheels. It could not be used to pan a large area left to right. It jammed very often.
A yes, the Gatlings. Custer did not take them for several reasons. One they would have slowed him down because they were pulled by condemned horses, and two, they did not have the tactics to use them like a modern machine gun. Those tactics did not surface until WWI. Gatlings were used as area weapons like direct artillery fire. If Reno had a few on Reno hill he may have used them to shower lead onto the Indian's encampment....if they could shoot that far. The Indians would have just backed up a little.
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  #138  
Old 29 Jul 13, 18:37
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Originally Posted by KRJ View Post
Seems like the Army could have done better, even with the technology of the day. Dried fruit, corn meal for cornbread and fritters, salt cured buffalo and buffalo jerky - things like that were simple and available and better than hardtack.

They still managed to bring medicinal whiskey though. Reno was known to require some medicating from time to time.
They did have desiccated vegetables that they would reconstitute in water and make into a kind of soup. Hard tack, also known as hard bread was considered good by many troops. They would crush it up onto a kind of meal. Coffee was issued in the bean, and it was often green. They had to crush it up, often inside a canteen cup using the butt of their carbine to pulverize it. They boiled the coffee in a pot throwing in several handfuls. Bacon was often rancid but sometimes edible. Salt Pork, called Salt Junk was soaked in water to remove some of the salt and then fried or thrown into the hard tack meal to make a kind of stew. Hard tack could also be pounded into flour and made into a flap jack. Men did suffer from survey sometimes. Beans were not a part of their diet, the movies, once again, has that wrong. They also caught fish and other wild game. The Indians did not eat trout. The fish were pretty stupid, and the troopers caught some beauties using a safety pin as a hook.
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  #139  
Old 29 Jul 13, 18:42
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Originally Posted by MontanaKid View Post
The Hotchkiss was used at Wounded Knee and it probably did cause a lot of the friendly fire casualties.
BTW: on the TV show Top Shot sometimes they fire some old Hotchkiss artillery pieces. There are very likely the VERY SAME guns the 7th used to shoot Sioux at Wounded Knee. At the time the Army only had a few of them and they kept them. I doubt there was many injuries due to friendly fire at Wounded Knee.



It took this picture from the edge of the trench that many Indians were hunkered down in during the Battle of Wounded Knee. In the burnt grass of the kill is where the army positioned their Hotchkiss guns. They fired both directly down the kill to hit people around where I am standing and also off to the right, rear (from my POS here) where the bulk of the Indian tentage was pitched.

Last edited by majormack; 29 Jul 13 at 18:48..
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  #140  
Old 29 Jul 13, 18:50
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If you look at the top of the hill and a little to your right you will see a long chicken wire fence. Within that fence is the location of the trench where they buried the frozen Indians who had been killed the day prior. Everyone has seen the famous picture of the soldiers standing around the open hole with other guys standing in it to arrange the frozen corpses.
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  #141  
Old 29 Jul 13, 18:55
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In the background, and behind the stand used to sell stuff is the burned off field where the major portion of the Indian village stood during the Battle of Wounded Knee. It may have stretched into the hills in the far ridge. Behind me rises the hill with the cemetery on the top. When I arrived here the grass had been set fire. The man is the truck is a fireman who had just extinguished the blaze.
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  #142  
Old 29 Jul 13, 19:01
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Originally Posted by Felix C View Post
Custer really did not have much battle experience regarding Indians. I count one company sized skirmish, one battalion sized pitched battle and the attack at Washita with the regiment. The first and the last were in 1867,1868 and the battalion battle in Yellowstone expedition.

Presumably as Lt.Col and acting C.O. he would have received all of the skirmish reports from detached companies over the years and discussions with his clique as to how Indians fought.
Custer was not the most experienced "Indian Fighter" but he was the most famous. I suspect that the most successful Indian fighter was Ranald McKinsey...I think I mis-spelled his name. He was a real hard nosed Indian fighter. He also died in an insane asylum. Gen George Crook was pretty successful too.
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  #143  
Old 29 Jul 13, 19:10
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As I swivel my chair around and view my Custer collection of books I count 46. "My Life" which he wrote to be serialized in a magazine are his words. While Benteen, who hated him called the book, "My Lie on the Plains", I disagree. I like My Life and re-read bits and pieces of it all the time. But better than "My Life" are Elizabeth's three books, Boots and Saddle's (the best), Following the Guidon and Tenting on the Plains. While Libby may gloss over some of her husband's weaknesses she tells the story true and the reader gets a wonderful view of what life was like in the army during Custer's day.

Custer was no more arrogant than any other young field grade officer of the day. Most people IMHO who hated him did out of jealously. Custer was also hard as nails. His men called him a Hard A$$, but he never asked them to do something that he could or would not do too. He had amazing stamina.
He would ride all night, sleep on the hard ground for for an hour and a half and ride hard for another day. It about beat his men to death to keep up with him.

Custer did not beraid his men in public, as Benteen did to him. He never swore at his men. He was always dressed to the nines. I think he was a thrill seeker. From what we know of him, he loved fighting and never hesitated to lead his men, from the front, into a battle. He was only slightly wounded in the Civil War. He never, ever drank. Nor did he share his thoughts with men. He made his decisions on his own, and almost never asked anyone for their opinion, this, I am sure enraged Benteen who thought he was at least as talented an officer as Custer.

Was Custer arrogant? Not unusually so. He was confident and believed in "Custer's Luck". He loved to make practical jokes which would seem cruel today, but today everyone is afraid to embarrass someone, no so in Custer's day. Making a joke at someone elses' expense was the order of the day. Custer's jokes could be pretty darn cruel, but they cracked him up.
Custer also deserted his men to ride ahead to meet Libbie in Kansas. By coincidence he gave orders to shoot deserters.

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  #144  
Old 29 Jul 13, 19:18
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Originally Posted by ITALICA ONE View Post
Im not too up to date on Custers' Civil War career but as a commander in the Indian wars his reputation, exploits and cruelty were legendary.

http://www.greatmilitarybattles.com/...tle_big_h.html
Not totally true. Custer took prisoners, and if he could he would give medical care to the wounded. The Indians never did that. They killed all of their enemy, tortured them if they were wounded or unhurt. One of their favorite tortures was to nail a man to the ground, spread eagled and then build a fire on their stomach until their guts were burned up. When they captured Isaiah Dorman at Custer's last stand, they nailed him to the ground with a picket pin driven through his scrotum and then they pulverized his shins with stone sledge hammers. All of those work done my women and children.

Indians loved to torture captives and dismember the enemy dead. They pounded Tom Custer's head "to pudding". They believed that if they dismembered an enemy dead that was the condition he would arrive in the After Life, so they really cut them up, usually starting at their private parts which they loved to stuff into the victim's mouth. Many of the dead had their heads cut off. They liked to put a rope around a live captive's neck and drag him around the camp until they pulled his head off. This was probably the fate of Lt. Sturgis whose body was never identified at the Little Big Horn.

No, sir Custer's troops were never even close to as cruel as were the Sioux.
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  #145  
Old 29 Jul 13, 19:20
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Custer also deserted his men to ride ahead to meet Libbie in Kansas. By coincidence he gave orders to shoot deserters.

Pruitt
That is true and he was court-martialed for it and convicted and removed from active duty without pay for a year. He was re-instated however, after a few months.
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  #146  
Old 29 Jul 13, 19:25
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I remember when the Army started trying to improve the enlisted men's diet by sending dried, compressed (dessicated?) vegetables to use in cooking stews and soups. The officer's wives immediately grabbed the rations and used them in their quarters and considered these their due! It would seem the poor enlisted men got the dirty end of the stick every way they turned.

One of the Officer wives that gloated over the loot was Libbie Custer when they were stationed in Kansas.

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I cannot see Libby taking food from the troops. Can you recall where you read this? I have all of her books. I'll look it up. If you saw it, it must be true, but it sure doesn't sound like the libbie Custer I know.

The army issued desiccated vegetable during the Civil War too.
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  #147  
Old 29 Jul 13, 19:33
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Originally Posted by Pruitt View Post
The "kettle" was a pot. You don't HAVE to soak beans. Higher temps will cook them soft. If you have the time, it is better to soak them. You might need one Trooper to carry a skillet, one to carry a pot and take turns cooking. One might bring a bottle of Catsup and a couple of bags of beans. You can carry less than five pounds per troop and vary the menu a bit. It will probably be gone in a week or so anyway. If you bring a wagon along you can carry dutch ovens as well.

Pruitt
If Custer's troopers prepared their meals a CW soldiers did, then they would have separated themselves in to "messes" consisting of half a dozen men or maybe a few more. They shared duties. One would pack the skillet, the other the coffee pot, etc... When they arrived at a camp site, they would immediately start their tasks. One guy would collect wood and other the fire sight, another would start the coffee prep, etc. A real problem was they did not understand how well they should clean their dishes, skillets, etc...so many came down with the trots. Having the green apple quick step and riding in a McClellan saddle all day long would be about the worst.
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  #148  
Old 29 Jul 13, 19:41
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Originally Posted by johnbryan View Post
Reno was known to require ALOT of medicating from time to time. Probably why he performed so miserably at LBH.
Reno was often drunk and was seen to be taking hits from a canteen full of hooch during the Battle of Little Big Horn. He and Benteen got into at least one drunken brawl (not during the battle). One evening while staggering back to his quarters from the officer's club he walked by the CO's house and peeked into the living room window, he spied the Colonel's comely daughter. She saw him peeping at her, and she screamed. He was convicted of conduct unbecoming an officer and removed from the service.

He requested a court-martial after the BLBH and was exonerated, but many officers, especially the former Confederate General Rosser disagreed with the findings of the court.
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  #149  
Old 30 Jul 13, 18:05
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Originally Posted by KRJ View Post
Okay then, fair enough.

Then was it immoral when one native tribe warred with another to advance their people, place, kin and kind?

If not, explain why not.
Inner tribal warfare was the Plains Indians' way of life. After they returned from a raid they would immediately start planning another. They showed bravery by counting coup, taking scalps and stealing women and horses.

Indians were constantly on the look out for other marauding Indians. Some tribes had a particular antipathy against another...the Sioux vs. the Crow for instance. The Ree aka the Arikara also dispised the Sioux. The Sioux were divided into what I will call sub-tribes. As an example the Sans Arc, Brule, Oglala, Minnicanju (sp?) a few more. They spoke a similar language and shared some traditions. I do not know if they fought against one another...I do not think so. They did join together to fight Custer's troops. The Cheyenne and the Sioux had an on again off again relationship. There were many tribes that were different one from another in many ways. Their mode of dress was unique to their tribe, and Indians and Indian Scouts could identify a tribe by just looking at them.
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  #150  
Old 30 Jul 13, 18:23
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The 'Sioux' were divided into three language groups, basically the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota. They could understand each other. Interestingly some other Siouxan speaking groups like the Omaha were almost exterminated by their cousins. The Arikara and Mandan were settled farmers living along the Missouri. They started off trading corn and other foodstuff with the Siouxan groups but it turned to outright war after the Smallpox nearly exterminated these farming tribes. The Pawnee to the South and the Shoshone were also big enemies of the Sioux. The Sioux made peace with the Comanche.

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