Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

dlofting

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 13, 2013
Location
Vancouver, BC, Canada
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.
He's referring to shell casings that were picked up by visitors and workers over the years before the archaeological work was done.
 

tmorr

Private
Joined
Sep 4, 2020
Casings were also added to the field to make the souvineer hunters in the late 1800's happy, but they can generally be weeded out when looking at the data due to improper head stamps and the lack of a Benet primer. Something all battle period Springfield rounds had - and something that the early "seeders" of the field and visitors to the field didn't know or care about.

In general about Fox's work... I know he has his detractors, but the evidence that he and Scott uncovered and catalogued as well as the theory of tactical disintegration and "bunching" is very credible in my mind. It's pretty amazing the there was that much to discover after the fire in the 80s and subsequent field studies.

A bit off topic... While the 7th cavalry might not earn the title of "elite" as we define it today they were considered one of the better frontier outfits in the army at the time. At the LBH the troopers were scared (normal), tired/fatigued/malnourished (normal) and not the best marksmen (also normal for the period when only a handful of practice rounds were allotted per month) and while their leadership made some poor decisions from the jump I believe they fought to survive as best they could under the circumstances. Did some panic? You bet, but I don't believe in the multiple/mass suicide theories that permeated the study of the battle years ago.

I do think that perhaps the sgt who almost escaped at the end (his name escapes me right now, but it's the one the Indians claim had a fast horse that they couldn't catch but shot himself in the head) accidentally shot himself while whipping his horse with his Colt. Imagine the story he could have told if he'd made it out as he appeared to be so close to getting away (deliberate or accidental death aside).
 

FZ11

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Location
Dallas
Casings were also added to the field to make the souvineer hunters in the late 1800's happy, but they can generally be weeded out when looking at the data due to improper head stamps and the lack of a Benet primer. Something all battle period Springfield rounds had - and something that the early "seeders" of the field and visitors to the field didn't know or care about.

In general about Fox's work... I know he has his detractors, but the evidence that he and Scott uncovered and catalogued as well as the theory of tactical disintegration and "bunching" is very credible in my mind. It's pretty amazing the there was that much to discover after the fire in the 80s and subsequent field studies.

A bit off topic... While the 7th cavalry might not earn the title of "elite" as we define it today they were considered one of the better frontier outfits in the army at the time. At the LBH the troopers were scared (normal), tired/fatigued/malnourished (normal) and not the best marksmen (also normal for the period when only a handful of practice rounds were allotted per month) and while their leadership made some poor decisions from the jump I believe they fought to survive as best they could under the circumstances. Did some panic? You bet, but I don't believe in the multiple/mass suicide theories that permeated the study of the battle years ago.

I do think that perhaps the sgt who almost escaped at the end (his name escapes me right now, but it's the one the Indians claim had a fast horse that they couldn't catch but shot himself in the head) accidentally shot himself while whipping his horse with his Colt. Imagine the story he could have told if he'd made it out as he appeared to be so close to getting away (deliberate or accidental death aside).
Sgt. Knipe.
 

tmorr

Private
Joined
Sep 4, 2020
Sgt. Knipe.
no, not Knipe - that's a whole other can of worms and lore. The sgt. I'm talking about was found about a mile from LSH. The Indians said he had a fast horse and was escaping but shot himself in the head. Some theorize that he might have been the last desperate messenger sent out from the LSH area or he simply had a great horse and tried to save himself. Regardless, he broke out, but either took his own life (per the Indian story) or accidentally shot himself while riding and whipping his horse. I'll have to dig further for his name tonight.
 

Lincoln56

Corporal
Joined
Jul 24, 2016
Location
Texas
Pretty sure the reconstruction shell casing were made of Brass as were the 44 rimfire the shells produced in the dig were copper
It is alleged that the shell casings are all copper except for one casing believed to be from Custer’s Remington .50-.70 caliber “rolling block” sporting rifle.

https://www.antiquesandthearts.com/custer-collector-michael-ward-unloads-at-heritage/

From the above article: "Keith McDougal Jr, said he found it at a known Indian position, which invites theories as to whether the rifle was scavenged and taken by the Native Americans in battle. He wrote, “I personally have seen more than 2,000 shells found at the Custer Battle in the last 15 years and no other shell casings of different calibers have been found which were made of brass. All other shell casings were made of copper."

The copper casings allegedly caused extraction problems when the chambers became too hot. These needed to be pried out, which had to be time consuming and frustrating, especially if you're under attack. Although, like so many other things about LBH, the number of failures of the copper casings has been disputed.

FWIW, when I fire many rounds through my modern weapons and I'm using steel cased cartridges and don't stop to let the barrel cool I've had a couple of occassions with the same issue of the casing not ejecting after firing and needing to be pried out. Think there's possibly some kind of lacquer on them.
 
Last edited:

FZ11

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Location
Dallas
no, not Knipe - that's a whole other can of worms and lore. The sgt. I'm talking about was found about a mile from LSH. The Indians said he had a fast horse and was escaping but shot himself in the head. Some theorize that he might have been the last desperate messenger sent out from the LSH area or he simply had a great horse and tried to save himself. Regardless, he broke out, but either took his own life (per the Indian story) or accidentally shot himself while riding and whipping his horse. I'll have to dig further for his name tonight.
Sorry, You're right, Kanipe was a courier.
 

FZ11

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Location
Dallas
Casings were also added to the field to make the souvineer hunters in the late 1800's happy, but they can generally be weeded out when looking at the data due to improper head stamps and the lack of a Benet primer. Something all battle period Springfield rounds had - and something that the early "seeders" of the field and visitors to the field didn't know or care about.

In general about Fox's work... I know he has his detractors, but the evidence that he and Scott uncovered and catalogued as well as the theory of tactical disintegration and "bunching" is very credible in my mind. It's pretty amazing the there was that much to discover after the fire in the 80s and subsequent field studies.

A bit off topic... While the 7th cavalry might not earn the title of "elite" as we define it today they were considered one of the better frontier outfits in the army at the time. At the LBH the troopers were scared (normal), tired/fatigued/malnourished (normal) and not the best marksmen (also normal for the period when only a handful of practice rounds were allotted per month) and while their leadership made some poor decisions from the jump I believe they fought to survive as best they could under the circumstances. Did some panic? You bet, but I don't believe in the multiple/mass suicide theories that permeated the study of the battle years ago.

I do think that perhaps the sgt who almost escaped at the end (his name escapes me right now, but it's the one the Indians claim had a fast horse that they couldn't catch but shot himself in the head) accidentally shot himself while whipping his horse with his Colt. Imagine the story he could have told if he'd made it out as he appeared to be so close to getting away (deliberate or accidental death aside).
Re Fox. Look Fox doesn't have the majority of the expended casings, or, the point from where they were originally fired, after 110 years of visitors scavenging the site and parking lot construction covering more casings fired by the soldiers at Last Stand Hill, etc., etc. ,etc. Extremely humorous was Fox's ballistics tracing a trooper's gun from lower on the hill to the top of the hill. The problem is, Fox doesn't know who might be firing the gun, was it a trooper, or, a Warrior? LoL Then, the "behavior of troops under fire" page filler of about 20-30 pages was quite a time waste. Further, the Indians picked up many of the troopers expended casings. Yes, the Indians reloaded cartridges. So, the Indians have all these new trooper rifles and are going to need some more ammo; So they pick up many of the troopers expended cartridges for later reloading. Fox couldn't figure this out? He doesn't have enough, original, info to draw specific conclusions. I want a refund.
 
Last edited:

Lincoln56

Corporal
Joined
Jul 24, 2016
Location
Texas
It is alleged that the shell casings are all copper except for one casing believed to be from Custer’s Remington .50-.70 caliber “rolling block” sporting rifle.

https://www.antiquesandthearts.com/custer-collector-michael-ward-unloads-at-heritage/

From the above article: "Keith McDougal Jr, said he found it at a known Indian position, which invites theories as to whether the rifle was scavenged and taken by the Native Americans in battle. He wrote, “I personally have seen more than 2,000 shells found at the Custer Battle in the last 15 years and no other shell casings of different calibers have been found which were made of brass. All other shell casings were made of copper."

The copper casings allegedly caused extraction problems when the chambers became too hot. These needed to be pried out, which had to be time consuming and frustrating, especially if you're under attack. Although, like so many other things about LBH, the number of failures of the copper casings has been disputed.

FWIW, when I fire many rounds through my modern weapons and I'm using steel cased cartridges and don't stop to let the barrel cool I've had a couple of occassions with the same issue of the casing not ejecting after firing and needing to be pried out. Think there's possibly some kind of lacquer on them.
I stand corrected from my post 526 in light of re-reading Douglas Scott's excellent "Uncovering History: Archaeological Investigations at the Little Big Horn". The following information comes from this book. Hopefully O.K. to quote.

1629662711747.png


Note: 'both battlefields' in the below snip refers to the Reno-Benteen site and the Custer battlefield.

1629662818087.png


In the same post, I'd made a point about copper casings and extraction failures. Scott concludes, based on examination of over a thousand casings that extraction failure was about 5% at the Reno-Benteen and Custer battlefield. This represents 20 weapons from the Reno-Benteen site and 10 from the Custer battlefield. Warrior weapon casings demonstrate an 8% extraction failure. This excludes the casings of .45-55 fired from .50 caliber arms. While it is understood that this isn't a finite set due to the unknown number of casings removed from the battlefield over the years it does point to extraction failure as not being the reason the battle was lost.

Of course, if this is your weapon with an extraction problem which costs your life, an extraction problem is a 100 % catastrophic event.
 

FZ11

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Location
Dallas
I stand corrected from my post 526 in light of re-reading Douglas Scott's excellent "Uncovering History: Archaeological Investigations at the Little Big Horn". The following information comes from this book. Hopefully O.K. to quote.

View attachment 411704

Note: 'both battlefields' in the below snip refers to the Reno-Benteen site and the Custer battlefield.

View attachment 411705

In the same post, I'd made a point about copper casings and extraction failures. Scott concludes, based on examination of over a thousand casings that extraction failure was about 5% at the Reno-Benteen and Custer battlefield. This represents 20 weapons from the Reno-Benteen site and 10 from the Custer battlefield. Warrior weapon casings demonstrate an 8% extraction failure. This excludes the casings of .45-55 fired from .50 caliber arms. While it is understood that this isn't a finite set due to the unknown number of casings removed from the battlefield over the years it does point to extraction failure as not being the reason the battle was lost.

Of course, if this is your weapon with an extraction problem which costs your life, an extraction problem is a 100 % catastrophic event.
Very interesting, Thanks!
 

SandiD

Private
Joined
Aug 18, 2021
Location
Somewhere in the Hudson Valley
Great photos. I hope to visit one day, but these will help fill the gap until then.
I hope to go back. I was there in 2000 and was amazed at the size and scope of the area.

Here is an interesting headstone at Cypress Hills National Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY related to Little Bighorn. Italian immigrant, Sgt. John Martin carried Gen. Custer's last message out from Little Big Horn before the battle.

JMARTIN_CUSTER.jpg
 
Last edited:

SandiD

Private
Joined
Aug 18, 2021
Location
Somewhere in the Hudson Valley
Giovanni Martini was his actual name.
I know. My friend does a Cypress Hills Guided Tour and talks about Martini. He also goes to the Union/Confederate/USCT burials, the burial place last of the War of 1812 combatant, the burial of British sailors from the American Revolution, French sailors who died in NY during the 1918 flu, a lot of interesting history in that cemetery. I think my uncle is now a stop as well.
 

Lincoln56

Corporal
Joined
Jul 24, 2016
Location
Texas
Wasn't there another 7th cavalry soldier discovered far from LBH? A Nathan Short from Company 'C' 7th cavalry, whose horse skeleton with all equipment and a human skeleton a little ways away was discovered three or four weeks after the battle near the Rosebud?

Some of the equipment, such as a hat and cartridge belt was marked with either a '50', which another member of the 7th said was how Short marked his gear and / or his initials on the belt. See letter from Daniel Kanipe to Walter Camp July 1908.

In another letter from Walter Camp to Daniel Kanipe in October 1910 this incident is mentioned as Camp describing a meeting with Charles F. Roe (who in 1876 was a Lieutenant with Gibbon) who stated "the incident was well authenticated and much talked of among Gibbon's officers".

The horse was shot in the head which stopped Short's further progress and led to his death.

Was Short sent with a message or was this a nearly successful escape attempt?

Do those with knowledge of LBH and the aftermath think this an accurate rendering of an incident related to the LBH battle or has other creditable information surfaced since that time which renders this an inaccurate recollection?

Is there another explanation for the discovered 7th cavalry equipment, horse and soldier in the location it was found?
 
Last edited:

Lincoln56

Corporal
Joined
Jul 24, 2016
Location
Texas
We'll probably never really know ;-)

This is both the frustration and the fascination of LBH for me.

You would be hard pressed to find a single event at LBH, even when described by eyewitnesses, that is in agreement on the details.

For example, and not trying to be grisly here, I would expect the description of the type and location of wounds on George and Tom Custer to be consistent and precise based on the number of people that saw their bodies. Yet reading Richard D. Hardorff's excellent 'The Custer Battle Casualties' one sees how they were found, the description of wounds, how they were buried, and who buried them differ in many eyewitness accounts. Even accounting for Victorian sensibilities to tone down the horror of their descriptions this is surprising to me. Though of course there is still heated debate on the nature of President John F. Kennedy's wounds by eyewitnesses.

There are many other like circumstances re: LBH which could be cited.

I've read that eyewitness testimony is not always embraced by trial attorneys for a similar reason; that many see and describe the same event very differently. Making you wonder if it is the same event. Though I have no idea if this is true.
 
Top