US General-in-chief Miles' analysis

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Lieutenant General Miles' analysis of Little Bighorn

WHAT THE SUPREME COMMANDER SAID


source:
US Lieutenant General (supreme commander of the army) Nelson A. Miles, Personal recollections..., The Riverside Publishing, 1897, pages 208-210, 289-290

Lieutenant General Miles (Medal of Honor) was a Civil War and Indian wars hero. He was the most successful Indian fighter of American history. He studied the Battle of the Little Bighorn during twenty-two years, interviewing witnesses, exploring the field and making reenactments of the battle with troops.  General Miles bio here

 "Captain Benteen halted his men and helped to rally the battalion of Major Reno. In that vicinity, the two commands remained the entire day and night. One commander (Reno) had received positive and repeated orders from Custer to attack the enemy; the other had received Custer’s last and equally positive order to “Come on”, “Be Quick” and “Bring Packs” containing the reserve ammunition.


The courier who brought Custer’s last message was the best possible guide to be had to lead the way to Custer’s position if any direction was needed; but the sound of the rifle shots and the volleys down the river indicated exactly where the troops and ammunition were required and should have gone.
(…)
When asked what would have been the result if Reno had not retreated, the Indians frankly said that if he had not run, they would have fled. 
 
They were also asked what the consequences would have been if Reno with the seven troops had followed the Hunkpapas and Oglala when they turned and went down to the assistance of the Indians in the village, and they candidly admitted that they would have been between two fires. 
 
In other words, the battle was lost twice, not by the action of Custer, however, for his command fought gallantly as long as it lasted, and he had given proper and judicious orders to the other commands.
 
 “It is not expected that five troops could have whipped that body of Indians, neither it is believed that that body of Indians could have whipped twelve troops of the Seventh cavalry under Custer’s command or if his orders had been properly executed."

 More by General Miles on Little Bighorn (+ Video)

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