Custer's Civil War tactics

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 How Custer managed his units during Civil War battles
CUSTER'S TACTICS
edited by 
"conz", military officer, West Point graduate, LBH.info 
 
source: Custer Victorious, by Gregory J. Urwin, Bison Books

 

 

Time is of the essence:
“Custer was still a good two miles outside of Appomattox Station when the sun began to fail, but not wishing to tire his command or let it get spread out in the darkness, he drew the 3rd Cavalry Division into a park for the night. Let the men sleep; they will be busy enough tomorrow. While the Red Ties were settling down, a prisoner was brought to the Boy General…Four defenseless trains full of munitions and supplies were waiting at Appomattox Station for the Army of Northern Virginia, and the Yankees could probably get there well ahead of the Confederates. At that precise moment a courier from Merritt gave Custer an order to halt and rest his division. Old Curly turned to one of his staff and directed him to relay this message to the Chief of Cavalry: ‘I just have word that there are four train loads of provisions for Gen. Lee at the station two miles from here, if I do not receive orders to the contrary, I am going to capture those trains.’ Before that aide was out of sight, Custer had his brigades mounted and clattering up the road at a trot, the 1st Connecticut and 2nd Ohio out in front as an advance guard.”

Orders for an advance guard:
“Colonel Pennington was detached with the 1st Connecticut, the 2nd Ohio, and the 2nd New York and directed to pitch into anything that got in his way.”

Using his adjudant to monitor a ford crossing:
“When he had first spied those Southern foot soldiers veering away from the turnpike, Custer had sent his new adjutant, Captain Levant W. Barnhart, downstream t monitor a ford half a mile below his left.”
p. 172 

Racing ahead with small forces to cut off the enemy’s retreat:
“Taking off with only the 1st Vermont and 5th New York Cavalry and bidding his other regiments to follow as soon as they could break away and get rid of their prisoners, Old Curly jumpted his charger into a rocky ravine and clattered down to a blind ford he knew a quarter of a mile from the bridge. Hastily forming his two regiments on the south bank, the Boy General galloped forward half a mile and then turned east toward Early’s escape route.”

Tactics at Tom’s Brook:
“While the Rebs were diverted by Pennington’s skirmishers and Peirce’s stubborn battery, he ordered the 8th an 22nd New York and the 18th Penssylvania to veer right and come down on Rosser’s flank, and the 2nd Brigade was brought up to administer the coup de grace.”

Tactics at Mt. Crawford:
“Swiftly gauging the situation, he sent two regiments from Capehart’s brigade, the 1st New York and 1st West Virginia, to swim the river a mile above the bridge and then pounce on Rosser’s flank while he charged across the flaming span.”

Tactics as Waynesboro:
“Making one of his quick reconnaissances, Old Curly spotted this weakness and decided to take Old Jubilee without waiting for Merritt and Devin. Custer had Pennington dismount three regiments from his 1st Brigade armed with Spencer carbines…and move around the Confederate left under the cover of some woods near the river. Led by the division’s Acting Assistant Inspector-General, LTC Edward W. Whitaker, the flanking force got into position unseen, crouching among the trees and awaiting the signal from Custer that would turn them loose on Early’s hindquarters. Custer kept the enemy’s attention riveted to the front by having Colonel Wells send forward a line of mounted skirmishers to pester his opponents.”

 

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Custer Victorious: The Civil War Battles of General George Armstrong Custer 

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