Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Anniversary: The Battle of Little Big Horn

"Damn! All we wanted to do was disarm the heathen bastards. Why are they taking it so personal?"
Today is the anniversary of the battle of Little Big Horn. It is a cautionary tale with many modern ramifications.

19 comments:

WarriorClass III said...

And remember, Federales, Custer died for your sins...Go, and sin no more, lest you die in like manner.

Anonymous said...

My favorite is 'Custer wore an arrow shirt'. Got his ass handed to him, he did.

Anonymous said...

Custer so it has been said was the only person who I ever read about that complained about having too much fire power. The Gatling Guns were too heavy for this military exercise and not necessary. I think history says otherwise

Taylor Harbin said...

Here is a link to the best modern documentary on the subject:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6CTybnUE8M

SWIFT said...

In an interesting side note; in 2004 an archeological survey was done on the Little Big Horn battlefield. Participants were initially confused about the large number of split shell casings found at the site. The answer was that the Indians, unable to read, would shoot any cartridge that would fit into their guns. This relatively new information has me wondering if Custer's men were responsible for all the Indian casualties.

Anonymous said...

The "battle of the little big horn" was one of the last battles of a GENOCIDE that had been going since 1492. The policy of the federal military dictatorship in DC was simple: "the only good Indian is a dead Indian" Custer and his boss Gen. Crook were there to carry that policy out. Why did they get their ass's kicked? (Crook AND Custer got the shit kicked out of them). The natives were FAR better armed than the feds. Even IF Custer had taken his jam prone Gatling guns(the M-16 of its day) with him, He simply would not have had the fire power or ammo to win. He was out numbered 40 to 1, by a force armed with repeating rifles. Custer's men had just drawn the 1873 rife the week before they left the fort. ONLY his officers and NCO's had ever fired the weapon's!! Add to this the fact that the 7th was badly under strength. Made up with too many men who just got off the boat and didn't speak English, An over 50 alcoholic XO and weak junior officers and the 7th really had little or no chance to survive when Custer split his forces that morning.

Anonymous said...

Another arrogant, ego-maniacal Yankee officer got his just desserts. How many Little Big Horns await the corrupt establishment and their police and DHS minions?

Jimmy the Saint said...

@Anonymous: "How many Little Big Horns await the corrupt establishment and their police and DHS minions?"

Given that the Little Bighorn cost the government a couple hundred cavalrymen that they cared little to nothing about (except as propaganda devices after their death), but effectively broke the Sioux as a power and had them all dead or on reservations within a matter of months, it was a very good trade for the government. They'll be happy to make that one again and again in the future.

Anonymous said...

nInteresting comments, even if mostly wrong. Elizabeth Custer spent the rest of her life propagandizing for her dead, narcissistic husband. That helps explain the "Indians were better armed" myth. The 1873 Springfield trapdoor carbine didn't help the soldier's cause any but mostly because the soldiers were firing too fast and heating up the barrel and the copper casing were expanding and jamming in the breach. The Indians, like at the so called Fetterman Massacre 9 years before, fought better, especially under the field leadership of Crazy Horse (who was probably white). So, as the Indians killed the soldiers with arrows, old muskets, clubs, etc., they also became armed with Springfields and revolvers to supplement the very low number of lever action rifles they had, but for which the had very little ammunition.

Elizabeth Custer also claimed Reno and Benteen did not come to the aid of Custer. Everyone knew Reno hated Custer, partly because Custer abandoned Major Elliot and eighteen men at the Washita Massacre just under eight years before. However, Reno and Benteen for several miles away and being kept plenty busy.

Gatling guns were pretty useless against Indians and just about any other enemy not charging an entrenched position. In spite of the movies, they were extremely heavy, mounted on a wheeled carriage, hard to aim, had only a 50 round magazine and may have jammed easily. It would have been completely impossible for a piece of artillery of any kind to keep up with a cavalry charge and get wheeled into action. Once in action the Indians would have quickly sniped or otherwise taken out the crew to put the gun out of action.

About 20 % of the 7th Cavalry was newer recruits from Ireland, England and Germany. Of these, only the Germans would not have spoken English. The 7th was a disciplined outfit, even if it's commander was not. Otherwise those poor fools would never have followed him to disaster.

One last minor point, Custer had each troop mounted on same color horses. This probably helped identify which troop the stripped bodies belonged to.

Don Lynch

Anonymous said...

Mr Lynch The evidence for the native being better armed comes from the recovered shell casings found on the Custer battlefield by the US Park Service and Smithsonian on their dig in the 90's. NOT Libby Custer. They guess that 80% of native's had Winchesters or Henrys.- Reno AND Benteen were BOTH notorious drunks. Nether man made any attempt to aid Custer at any point after the fist charge.- Gatling's WERE useless.- Custer's Runner was Italian and could nether speak nor read English (the 7th had troopers from Swiss Italy Germany Norway Ireland England and Russia ) Having been on last stand hill I can tell you that the color of Custer's horses would have had nothing to do with anything, The body's were scattered everywhere over about a square MILE. None of them were ever positively identified. There were No formations. There was NO glory no "last stand" It was all over before most of the command knew what hit it. Most of Custer's troopers never got off more than 3-4 rounds.(US Park service) Custer's battle lasted less than 20min. OH and P.S your fist paragraph is total utter BULLSHIT with no basis in fact or history- In fact pretty much all of your post is bullshit. The Washita murder was Custer's 7th Killing a peaceful village of women and children and old people. They were helpless and that bastard Custer murdered them anyway. You know like sand creek- Crazy horse was a Lakota- And the 7th was a royal Charlie Foxtrot in 1876 with damn little in the way of real training or order- Grow up and read some books. Custer was an Idiot A murderer A bully and a fool. And while you are thinking up a good flame for me look up the battle that took place on the Rosebud in the days before the Little Big Horn- Crook had an Army 5X the size of Custer-and got his ass handed to him by the same men that did Custer. Because in the words of Gen.Crook "they(the natives) were armed with repeating Rifles"

wade said...

Custer may have had it coming, but that's Geronimo on your bumpersticker.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I visited there last year. I've got a bad habit of speaking my mind (I think I can safely blame my Dad!). As we were standing over the markers, I blurt out "The arrogant pr_ck got what he deserved (Much to my wife's displeasure). There were 20+ folks standing around, they all looked at me, but no one disagreed with me!
On another aside...Mike, Keep up the good fight. I'll try and get you some more payoal traveling bucks as soon as I finish a job I'm on. I sure hope some of your readers do likewise.
DixieDennis

Anonymous said...

The Lakota did what the Tsa-La-Gi would not. Never again, says this one.

Anonymous said...

Fuck yellow longhair.

Anonymous said...

Blue coats speak with forked tongues, and deserve nothing more than to be staked out to ant hills. Hetchetu Aloh.

Anonymous said...

Do you understand what Sitting Bull saw? What Wovoka tried to teach the remnants? Their technology was 500 years ahead of the Wasitchu's - it was a spiritual technology, not a physical one.

Wimachtendienk, Wingolauchsik, Witahemui.

Dutchman6 said...

"Reno AND Benteen were BOTH notorious drunks. Nether man made any attempt to aid Custer at any point after the fist charge."

I assume you mean "first charge." Which was, the way Custer split his forces, Reno's. (Given the reported size of the village, Benteen had advised him not to do it that morning but was rebuffed, Custer being Custer.) Reno, without enough troops to carry the charge home (3 companies only), stopped, formed a skirmish line and then withdrew to the woods, where he had the scout Bloody Knife's brains blown all over him and then, he lost it, withdrawing in a skedaddle to what is now known as Reno Hill, leaving many of his men to get out as best they could and, some of them, to slaughter. He was not drunk at this time.

Benteen (with another battalion of three companies), given a singularly useless mission of scouting away from the village, was met by the courier with a contradictory order, saying "Come on. Big village. Be quick. Bring packs." The pack train was miles behind and way out of the fight. Benteen was certainly not drunk when he decided to ride to the sound of the guns, which was Reno's fight. Shortly thereafter, Custer, having cut himself off from any ready support by a flawed battle plan that was accentuated by the ground, smacked into the village with 5 companies, and, as they say, "rode off into glory."

Benteen got to Reno Hill just after Reno, who was obviously "unmanned" as they they used to say, totally out of the fight mentally and who proposed leaving the wounded and escaping. Benteen refused to do it. Leaving the hill to go in search of Custer, there were too many Indians between them and Custer's force so they returned to hill, where:
A. Reno retreated to his hole and certainly git drunk and Benteen conducted one of the most brilliant pieces of officership ever by organizing the defense, bucking up the demoralized troopers of Reno's command (the pack train also joined them there) and conducted himself in the highest traditions of the United States cavalry.

Benteen certainly would get drunk from time to time, usually when he depressed about something -- such as when Custer had run off and left Benteen's best fried, MAJ Elliot, at the Washita back in 1868. Custer had sent Elliott with 19 men on another useless scout, and was missing when it came time to leave the scene of the fight. Benteen wanted to search for him, but Custer, having taken the time to kill the Indian horses, dismantle and pack up a souvenir teepee and with Indian women and children captives in tow (one of whom he would later bed and impregnate) refused.

Elliot's force was surrounded and literally cut to pieces. They found the mutilated bodies in the snow, weeks later, and after they returned, Benteen did go on a bender for about a week. At the end of it, he wrote a letter telling of Custer's fatal mistake to a civil war comrade, who then shared it with someone else, and it ended up published in a Saint Louis newspaper. When it came to Custer's attention, he knowing it had been written by one of his officers, he called all of them to his tent and demanded to know who had written it, saying he would horsewhip the offender. Benteen walked outside the tent, made a check of his pistol to ensure it was loaded, walked back in, admitted authorship and, with his hand "lightly" resting on the grip of the pistol, told Custer he was ready for the horsewhipping. Knowing that if he raised the riding crop, Benteen would kill him, Custer stammered that he would see him later. The matter was never mentioned by Custer again.

Custer killed himself and good part of his command out of arrogance and incompetence. End of story.

Anonymous said...

Ignorant.....Geronimo the Apache warrior was in Arizona and didn't even know who Custer was......and most people don't know who Custer was, they just judge without doing any real research.......Custer almost didn't get to go off to his last battle where he was killed, because he was testifying against President Grants brother Orvile Grant for the fact that Orvile Grant was miss-using funds that were meant for the reservation Indians. He was basically pocketing the money, while the Indians were not getting the rations that they had coming...and Custer thought that was wrong, he respected Indians and there way of life....he said that if he was a Indian, he wouldn't come in either, he would stay out on the plains of the Powder River Country and hunt buffalo. But President Grant was pissed off and it took the request of General Phil Sheridan to allow Custer to ride off to the battle of the Little Bighorn

Dutchman6 said...

Anon,

I cannot speak for your charges, but I see you are a Custer Fanboy. I do not think any historian would call the Grant administration a moral or ethical one. He was not even that great of a general. I will say that Mike will have a Civil War book out in the future that goes in depth into the Benteen/Custer relationship. Hopefully you will find use in that.

- Matthew