Proving the Last Stand

Publié le par custerwest

Inspired by a love of history and its amazing accounts of human endeavor, model making and dramatic representations of the people, places and things that have shaped our culture.
William Rini is a teacher, a long-time LBH specialist and a Frontier reenactor.  

 Concerning Dr. Richard Fox's  theories about "no last stand at Little Bighorn (controversial archaeology) : he is clearly an expert in the field of archaeology and forensics,  however, it is also quite clear that his weakness is in the area of military  tactics and military analysis. I feel he fell far short of the mark concerning  the latter.

One great flaw in his theory concerned the alleged lack
 of organized defense on Custer Hill. There is certainly evidence to suggest  otherwise:

1) Concerning the lack of cartridges: any amateur student  of the battle could tell you that Last Stand Hill has been more or less picked  clean of cartridges and bullets for many years, when the first Superintendant  allowed visitors to the battlefield to fill their pockets with souvenirs.  

Further evidence pointing to an organized defense on Last Stand Hill is  indicated below:

2) there were 32 dead horses (primarily Bays from Co.  F) shot and positioned in a semi-circle near the crest of Last Stand Hill, as  well as 7 more horses shot as breastworks at the summit.

3) Custer and  his Headquarter's Staff were found at the summit, while most of F Co. (including  their Commander Capt. Yates and survivors from C, I, & L were found behind  the 32 horses just below the summit.

4) the 30 or so troopers who were  killed in and around Deep Ravine were nearly all members of E Co., which would  indicate a tactical movement to the Ravine, as opposed to a panic-striken rout.  Had it been the latter, there would have been an equal number of troopers from F  Co. involved as well. Yet nearly all eye-witness account of the bodies in Deep  Ravine after the battle identify the soldiers as belonging to E  Company.

5) Dr. Fox ignored a number of Indian eye-witness accounts that  state very clearly that there was hard fighting (a last stand) in both the Keogh  sector and on Last Stand Hill. Of course, we know there was hard fighting on  Calhoun Hill for well over an hour before they were overwhelmed by sheer  numbers.

6) Dr. Fox also ignores the fact that Custer's 5 companies  held off 10 times their number for approximately 2 hours before being  overwhelmed, instead relying on a quote claiming the battle lasted "as long as a  hungry man eating his dinner." Since when did a hungry man take over 2 hours to  eat his dinner?

In short, Custer was on the offensive and  was expecting reinforcements at any moment. Had he known that his command had  been abandoned by the rest of his regiment, he would have taken a stronger  defensive posture. This mistake aided the hostiles greatly in their efforts to  penetrate the perimeter. Dr. Fox seems to ignore this critical aspect of the  battle completely.

As I said before, Dr. Fox and Dr. Scott are to be  commended for doing a great service in uncovering important archaeological clues  as the what happened that day, however, I feel that his Achilles heel lies in  his attempts to properly interpret military tactical movements and to  incorporate them into all of the Indian oral accounts (not just the ones that  support a particular theory.) I do think Dr. Fox is right on the money in his  analysis of the action at Medicine Tail Ford, and I think his research has  opened up a whole new vista supporting the theory that Custer was heading north  to reach the non-combatants. They did not mention it, but Dr. Fox has done  excellent research demonstrating that Custer actually reached a ford well north  of Last Stand Hill, which corroborates the oral account of John  Stands-In-Timber, tribal historian of the Northern Cheyenne, and nephew of Wolf  Tooth (a battle participant). All in all, he did a very good job, and I  recommend his  book to all who wish to learn more about this fascinating subject.

see also 
Indian casualties to understand the strength of Custer's resistance



Publié dans LBH: Last Stand (I)

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