Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

FZ11

Sergeant Major
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Reno did not bug out but was overwhelmed. Benteen was too far away (because of Custer) for immediate help for Custer... and barely was enough to hold off attacks on Reno once there. The attack was reckless attacking an enemy force much larger than his own with only 2/3 of his force at best at different times.

Maybe he read the tactics part of study wrong when it said you generally need 3-1 advantage on attack. Haha

IMO he should at least of fell back, re-grouped and thought things over.

It was a lot like disturbing a hornet's nest how it turned out.
Just so you know, the 3-1 advantage tactic is regarding Infantry attacks. This, here, ain't no Infantry attack, is it? Custer can't fall back as he is looking for a ford to cross so he can support Reno with a flank attack. A little later, Custer can't fall back, because, when Reno bugs out, Reno takes about 500 Indians with him. Reno's Indians then leave Reno and attack Custer from the rear cutting Custer off from Reno/Benteen. Had Reno fought in the Timber for a longer time, perhaps, Custer might have had more time and "thought things over", as you say, and not being cut off by Reno's Indians, retraced his route South and supported Reno's withdrawal. Just a speculation.
 
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Lincoln56

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Location
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Just a brief side note: I got to meet Doug Scott and sat through a half day session with him, not on the LBH but rather infamous weapons in Nebraska history where we got to see the Charles Starkweather weapons. He only briefly talked about the LBH and his work there.
Mr. Scott and Mr. Fox have certainly contributed much to the growth and development of, what is the new term, Conflict Archaeology.

While they weren't necessarily the first, even at LBH, they're certainly should be considered as being at the forefront of this investigative approach and have proven its validity in providing new information about the battle and the careful marking and preservation of remaining physical evidence.
 

dgfred

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Just so you know, the 3-1 advantage tactic is regarding Infantry attacks. This, here, ain't no Infantry attack, is it? Custer can't fall back as he is looking for a ford to cross so he can support Reno with a flank attack. A little later, Custer can't fall back, because, when Reno bugs out, Reno takes about 500 Indians with him. Reno's Indians then leave Reno and attack Custer from the rear cutting Custer off from Reno/Benteen. Had Reno fought in the Timber for a longer time, perhaps, Custer might have had more time and "thought things over", as you say, and not being cut off by Reno's Indians, retraced his route South and supported Reno's withdrawal. Just a speculation.

Still= 1500? 2000? 2500? vs 300-

Custer can't support Reno because the timing was not right. After approaching the ford... everybody was falling back with Custer maybe looking to cut off the rear of the encampment to prevent retreat of the camp which was not retreating. Keough's and Calhoun's units were surrounded and massacred... then Custer over-run. Reno can't fight longer in the Timber or he too would have been slaughtered.
I don't consider Reno 'bugging out' but still occupying the Indian's attention. IMO not so many Indians left the Reno/Benteen area (it was still 'hot' around there) but there were plenty more to attack the remaining forces with Custer. It kind of looks like the Indian's shock troops (Crazy Horse,etc) were the ones that did the surrounding and coup de grace.
BTW- Reno set up on foot to attack... everyone else was slaughtered while on foot.

From what happened... Custer thinking things over again might have been the worst option. Maybe letting someone else think tho is a good one.
 

Lincoln56

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looking to cut off the rear of the encampment to prevent retreat of the camp

Assuming Custer finds the rear of the encampment, due to the village size he is far away from providing assistance to Reno other than closing in from the rear and hoping this turns the attackers away from Reno to focus on him. Unless he had no intention of assisting Reno and the intent was capturing women and children, the thinking being this is an 'incentive' to get the warriors to put down their arms and cease fighting.

BTW- Reno set up on foot to attack... everyone else was slaughtered while on foot.

Agree, IMO the biggest mistake Reno made was dismounting and forming a skirmish line. He may not have prevailed regardless but the dismount robbed him of the intimidation and momentum factors of the mounted charge. Although, as @Irishtom29 has observed, revolvers and carbines aren't nearly as intimidating as sabers glittering in the sun and are difficult to reload while on horseback.
Though of course in this case the sabers had intentionally been left behind.

Reports indicate the remounting in the Timber and the move to the bluffs was totally chaotic; I'm surprised as many troopers managed to escape to the Reno-Benteen defense site as did.
 

Scott1967

First Sergeant
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Jul 11, 2016
Location
England
due to the village size he is far away from providing assistance to Reno other than closing in from the rear
Roughly 3.7 miles away around 20 mins on horse at the gallop on rough terrain baring in mind the horse would be fatigued.
Agree, IMO the biggest mistake Reno made was dismounting and forming a skirmish line.
I disagree this was standard army doctrine at the time due to the Springfield Trapdoor which is not designed to be reloaded on a horse that's what the pistols are for but they have a range of only 50-70 yards you must also consider the sabres were left behind.

Again i must stress the amount of 44 rimfire spent cartridges that was found in the 1984 dig meaning a significant amount of Indians were armed with both Winchester 66 which can be reloaded on a horse with ease and Henrys , Those Guns effective range is around 200 yards with 7-14 shot and 15 shot accordingly.

Just to give you an example on how effect these guns were.

Quote:

The Ottoman Empire purchased 45,000 Model 1866 rifles and 5,000 carbines in 1870 and 1871. These rifles were used in the 1877 Russo-Turkish War, causing much surprise when outnumbered Turks at the Siege of Plevna inflicted many times more casualties than their opponents armed with single-shot Krnka and Berdan rifles.[6] The Model 1866 compelled Russians to develop a new rifle, the Mosin–Nagant, after the war.

End Quote:

Its estimated that 30-40% of the plains Indians were armed with these weapons maybe as many as 1000 out of the 2500 they also carried the 45 Colt.

Their is nothing Reno could have done but retreat if he had stayed or charged into the village he would have been wiped out.
 

FZ11

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Location
Dallas
Mr. Scott and Mr. Fox have certainly contributed much to the growth and development of, what is the new term, Conflict Archaeology.

While they weren't necessarily the first, even at LBH, they're certainly should be considered as being at the forefront of this investigative approach and have proven its validity in providing new information about the battle and the careful marking and preservation of remaining physical evidence.
I'm not buying the flawed Foxology. Well.unfortunately, I did buy (purchase) it.
 

FZ11

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Location
Dallas
Still= 1500? 2000? 2500? vs 300-

Custer can't support Reno because the timing was not right. After approaching the ford... everybody was falling back with Custer maybe looking to cut off the rear of the encampment to prevent retreat of the camp which was not retreating. Keough's and Calhoun's units were surrounded and massacred... then Custer over-run. Reno can't fight longer in the Timber or he too would have been slaughtered.
I don't consider Reno 'bugging out' but still occupying the Indian's attention. IMO not so many Indians left the Reno/Benteen area (it was still 'hot' around there) but there were plenty more to attack the remaining forces with Custer. It kind of looks like the Indian's shock troops (Crazy Horse,etc) were the ones that did the surrounding and coup de grace.
BTW- Reno set up on foot to attack... everyone else was slaughtered while on foot.

From what happened... Custer thinking things over again might have been the worst option. Maybe letting someone else think tho is a good one.
Well, we all know what historically happened. My thought is that the longer Reno fights in the timber, the more time Custer has to move back South to save his troops, and the longer the amount of time before Custer is cut off to the South by the Reno Indians. The Reno Indians may have been held at bay for some time with Reno dismounted and fighting in the cover of the timber. Benteen would probably have ridden to support Reno in the Timber. I thought most of Reno's valley casualties occurred when Reno turned his back and ran to Reno hill.
 

FZ11

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Location
Dallas
Still= 1500? 2000? 2500? vs 300-

Custer can't support Reno because the timing was not right. After approaching the ford... everybody was falling back with Custer maybe looking to cut off the rear of the encampment to prevent retreat of the camp which was not retreating. Keough's and Calhoun's units were surrounded and massacred... then Custer over-run. Reno can't fight longer in the Timber or he too would have been slaughtered.
I don't consider Reno 'bugging out' but still occupying the Indian's attention. IMO not so many Indians left the Reno/Benteen area (it was still 'hot' around there) but there were plenty more to attack the remaining forces with Custer. It kind of looks like the Indian's shock troops (Crazy Horse,etc) were the ones that did the surrounding and coup de grace.
BTW- Reno set up on foot to attack... everyone else was slaughtered while on foot.

From what happened... Custer thinking things over again might have been the worst option. Maybe letting someone else think tho is a good one.
I think less than 2000 Warriors. Maybe, 1500.
 

Lincoln56

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Location
Texas
I disagree this was standard army doctrine at the time due to the Springfield Trapdoor which is not designed to be reloaded on a horse
Excellent point; unfortunate doctrine in this particular case.

This doctrine worked pretty well for Buford at Gettysburg on July 1st with the Sharps Carbine.

Again i must stress the amount of 44 rimfire spent cartridges that was found in the 1984 dig meaning a significant amount of Indians were armed with both Winchester 66 which can be reloaded on a horse with ease and Henrys

Based on the "Custer, Cases & Cartridges" book by Don Weibert as well as the work of Robert Bray, Elwood Nye, Joseph Blummer, R. G. Cartwright, Edward S. Luce, Douglas Scott, Richard Fox, and others it is revealing (appalling?) to know much better armed the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho were than the U.S. Cavalry.
 

tmorr

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Sep 4, 2020
The Native American warriors were not to be denied that summer and the Indian agents and traders supplied them well (in addition to captured weapons from the Rosebud and prior) for the task of fighting the soldiers on top of their already impressive array of martial skills.

The 45-55 Springfield carbine (reduced charge from the 45-70 rifle) did exactly what it was designed to do when maintained and used properly. That is, keep a foe at bay. Volley firing while in skirmish interval/formation during the Indian Wars was less about hitting someone that it was about showing you could hit them thus keeping them back when you maneuvered to attack, retreat or reposition. When you did hit the enemy, they went down - its a robust round. As noted in earlier posts the Indian fighting style or tactics generally didn't put them at risk unnecessarily and they would usually be a combination of sorties and holding actions designed buy time to allow the non-combatants to flee (no one fled at LBH until the Terry/Gibbon command was detected approaching the area and the village packed up and moved out and eventually scattered).

This skirmish order dismounted tactic apparently worked for a short while at LBH as evidenced by the cartridge piles found at 5 yard intervals in several positions. But... as the Indians gained in numbers from the village and from the Reno they area got in close, infiltrating the lines using terrain. The troopers were vastly outnumbered and overextended and not able to realign and reform to respond, so all hell broke loose. Stampeded or panicked horses left many on foot which meant certain death.

Remember that this battle field stretches for approx 3 miles from the Reno hilltop position to Last Stand Hill with a lot of maneuvering and troop dispositions of the two "wings" of the Custer battalion (and the deployments and charges of the 5 individual companies and the HQ group) along the way. Thats a lot of ground for 210 men to cover, especially when facing a warrior force estimated at 1500+ and a huge angry village of non-combatants estimated at in excess of 10,000 by some historians.

I believe that Custer thought he was still on the offensive until he realized Keogh was overrun. The troops in that area were the only ones who could have made the link up of the entire command possible, but that couldn't happen because of the situation that faced the Reno/Benteen command (shaken, wounded, etc. not yet supported by McDougal's men and the pack train) and their inability to move.

IF the entire regiment had been kept together from the start, it's still questionable if they could have "won" the battle. One third of the regiment might not have been wiped out but a quick study of the Rosebud battle days before showed how these same Indians whipped Crook who's cavalry/infantry command was intact, though perhaps not ideally deployed.
 

Scott1967

First Sergeant
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Location
England
I believe that Custer thought he was still on the offensive until he realized Keogh was overrun.
Most modern historians and in conjunction with the archaeological digs conclude that Calhoun Hill was the first to fall as the Indians raced from the East after the Reno fight and once Calhoun was overrun Keogh was next , Survivors from each of the companies would join the company next to them until they got to Custer Hill the last to fall.

We know this because of a good amount of spent Indian shells on a back ridge some 150 yards east of Calhoun hill in fact its the biggest concentration of spent Indian shells from flanking fire.

Given the fact that the Skirmish line was facing the river and the slopes below and as noted by Indian eyewitness accounts that the troopers were not using the terrain to hide and were completely exposed in their firing lines thus easy targets I find it hardly surprising the line collapsed.

It does seem that some troopers made a break for deep ravine however no remains have been found in the ravine no shell casings but some were found on the lip of the ravine indicating some Indians were atop maybe firing into the ravine.

Burial parties stated that 28 troopers died in the ravine however this is hotly contested.
 

Scott1967

First Sergeant
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Jul 11, 2016
Location
England
I always wonder about the location of bones/bodies/casings/etc because of things being moved, wash-outs, weather, etc.

Would stuff in the gullies get washed into the river?
Of course that could happen , I doubt a cluster of shell casings would be moved their pretty hard to spot in the long grass and what was surprising is the number of unfired 45/70 rounds found in the soldier positions more than likely dropped in panic of reloading or as a soldier fell.
 

FZ11

Sergeant Major
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Right. Shell casings scavenged for over 110 years and battlefield construction, before Fox tried to "work out" what happened, make his "ideas" unworkable and inaccurate.
 

Scott1967

First Sergeant
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Jul 11, 2016
Location
England
And I assume some Indians gleaned the field for spent cartridges.
Its not really mentioned in any of the accounts I'm aware of like I said above some unfired 45/70 rounds were found in the Trooper positions but taken their would have been a rush for personal items , weapons and ammo from the troopers I doubt many Indians would scavenge around for spent cases in the long grass.

Bare in mind treasure hunters have been looting the LBH from 1876 onwards I'm surprised they found the amount they did.
 

Scott1967

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Location
England
Right. Shell casings scavenged for over 110 years and battlefield construction, before Fox tried to "work out" what happened make his "ideas" not workable.
Pretty sure the reconstruction shell casing were made of Brass as were the 44 rimfire the shells produced in the dig were copper but maybe someone can correct me on that , You also have to consider that many types of shell casing were found including Spencer , Maynard , Evans , Minnie Balls , Sharps in fact 45 variety's were found overall not something you get in a reconstruction.
 
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