Skip to comments.Freeper Comments Requested: Custer and Stuart
Posted on 04/06/2005 4:47:10 AM PDT by LS
Freepers, I'm interested in the independent actions of George A. Custer at Little Big Horn and JEB Stuart from Brandy Station to Gettysburg on his "wild ride."
1) On Custer, I'd appreciate Freeper comments on Fox's book, "Archeology, History, and Custer's Last Battle" and "Lakota Noon." I've read the "standards: Stewart, Utley, and other older books. What do you think of Fox's "disintegration" theory? It does fit VERY well with Victor Hanson's model of western-style armies gaining their superiority from drill and discipline more than firepower (per se.) I'm especially interested in the following questions: a) did Custer exceed his orders? b) did Terry expect Custer to attack alone? c) is there ANY indication Terry knew Crook had turned back? d) what role did fatigue of Custer's men play in the defeat?
2) Please, without re-fighting the Civil War or its causes, I'm interested in Freeper comments on Jeb Stuart and his ride through PA, capturing the 125 wagons. I know Freeman's view (essentially blaming Stuart for denying Lee his "eyes," even though Freeman himself downplays this later). My questions are, a) in your opinion did Stuart exceed his orders? b) were his men too fatigued to fight even if they had arrived at Gettysburg earlier? c) how important was the Rummel Farm battle? (Was it, as one or two have said, the "key" to Lee's defeat at G-burg?)
Oh come on! Can't we please?? Where's WhiskeyPapa? Where's 4ConservativeJustices? Let's rumble :-P
Did you just watch "They died with their boots on" on TCM this morning? (Like I did?)
bump for later
"Both sought glory, not the success of their commander's mission."
Bump. Egos that were too big for their saddles.
Walt is a little tied up right now.
Sorry, I get nostalgic sometimes. Ever seen a movie called "Skin Game" with James Garner and Lou Gossett, Jr? It's from the 70s. Pretty funny flick set in the days of bloody Kansas. If you ever run across it, check it out.
No need to rumble, we're friends. Just a difference of opinion on an issue or two, but still conservatives ;o)
J.E.B. Stuart's report of the Gettysburg Campaign
Captain R. E. Frayser's
Tribute to Jeb Stuart
"Gettysburg: A Novel of the Civil War" written by Newt Gingrich and military historian William
The Great Salt Lake Trail
I've seen 'Skin Game' - they attempt to con everybody!
What happened to Wlat? Haven't seen him around for a while.
The best analysis of whether Jeb Stuart exceeded his orders during his Gettysburg Campaign raid is Dave Powell's article in Gettysburg Magazine. Dave basically concludes that Stuart did NOT exceed his orders, that in fact Stuart exercised the discretion Lee's orders gave him. Whether Stuart should have gone off raiding is another question.
Custer and Stuart were both very able calvery officers as well as being brave men. It's very easy to judge military errors in retrospect. Custer's orders were vague, but Terry had enough confidence in Custer to let him decide for himself the best course of action to round up the Indians and prevent them from escaping.
Custer and Stuart died as brave soldiers in the service of their countries.
Yes. I'd say this fits more with the "Lakota Moon" school than the Utley school.
My impression also was that both exceeded their orders, especially Custer. But I'm open to other evidence. The archeological evidence you speak of is in Fox's book---a very persuasive book.
Thanks. I have seen this article, and will get it.
Stuart died for his country but Custer died mostly for himself and took a lot of people with him. He was a patriot but let his ego dictate too much.
Well, this really isn't about Stuart's death---which came long after his military reputation was tarnished. Custer's death happened to coincide with the end of his military reputation.
BTW, what is your take (or Powell's) on the fatigue factor. Freeman makes much of that, and argues that it further slowed down Stuart's column as he attempted to rejoin Lee.
Fatigue and thirst must have played a part. Custer troops had been on the go all day in the Summer heat.
Recent archeology finds using metal detectors show a pattern of deaths over a large area which indicates that discipline broke down in Custer's troops, and they were scattered (fleeing?) over a wide area which considerably weakened fire discipline.
The cavalry had single shot carbines. The revolver as an equalizer would be good at only a limited range if the cavalry was able to close with the enemy. So it may be that the Sioux actually had better firepower through the use of faster shooting bows. A good bowman can put 12 missiles into the air in one minute, and since he doesn't have to use a straight line of sight, he can hide in declivities and behind sagebrush and still arc his arrows onto a targeted mass of troops. This was the story told by some of the Indians after the battle.
This is where I'm leaning. A couple of the reviews on Amazon of Fox's book really attack it, but I'm reading it, and his thesis seems sound to me. No evidence of skirmish lines.
Custer might have been a glory hound and in need of something spectacular to shine his tarnished image, but he had experience in fighting Indians. He had no idea of the sheer numbers and did not expect them to stand and fight. He was more worried about them getting away and scattering than defeating his troops. Spliting his forces, in his mind, was a sound move to cover all avenues of escape. Sheridan even said that if Custer had kept the 7th intact, he should have been able to defeat them.
There was a really good TV show on this archeological project that mapped the battlefield locations of troops from artifacts.
I don't remember if it was on the History channel or PBS but I'm leaning to the History channel. You might be able to find it somewhere through a library.
This is Custer's only excuse. Apparently the news that the Indians ALREADY had "stood and fought" against Crook had not yet reached Terry . . . or Custer.
I don't have Dave Powell's article in front of me. Actually, I saw Dave on Saturday, but didn't talk to him.
My take on the fatigue factor is that fatigue is inherent in any military operation, and especially in a CW cavalry raid. But I don't think the fatigue of Stuart's cavalry affected the outcome of Gettysburg. If Stuart hadn't driven his raiders to the point of fatugue, they probably would have been captured, and most certainly wouldn't have arrived at Gettysburg in time for the 3rd day of the battle.
The bottom lines are: Stuart had authorization to launch the raid; Stuart left some cavalry with Lee--it was just not used properly; once the raid commenced, and Stuart (as authorized by his orders) went around the Union army, Stuart's men were unable for those days to contribute to the reconnaissance Lee needed, and Lee knew (or should have known) that. To me Stuart's mistake was in not leaving a trusted subordinate (such as Wade Hampton or Fitz Lee) to handle the cavalry he left behind.
Obviously, yours is a much different take than DS Freeman's.
LS--A much different take. I love Freeman's books, but his emphasis on elevating Lee led him in this instance to unfairly diss Stuart. Most modern scholars would agree with me, not Freeman, on this.
Do you know what Burke Davis or Emory Thomas say about this episode? I haven't gotten to their works yet, but will soon.
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