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Today in history: the battle of Little Bighorn
Custer's Last Stand ^ | June 25, 2007 | drzz

Posted on 06/25/2007 6:45:11 AM PDT by drzz

In Memoriam: Custer's Last Stand, June 25, 1876

Private William Slaper : «Each man had secreted himself behind a slain horse. »

Lieutenant Charles DeRudio: “The horses were laying as if to suggest a barricade.”

Lieutenant Luther Hare: “The evidence on the Custer field indicated very hard fighting.”

__

Reno court of Inquiry: “In regard to the severity of the fighting on General Custer’s battlefield, did you see any evidences that there was hard fighting there, or the contrary?

Lieutenant Godfrey: “I think there must have been a very hard fighting.

Reno court of Inquiry: “You think there was a hard struggle?”

Lieutenant Godfrey: Undoubtedly, there was a very hard struggle.”

__

Lieutenant Edgerly: “I believe Custer fought very desperately.”

Lieutenant Edward McClernand, of Terry’s column: “Horse remains in a 30-foot diameter circle not badly done, evidently used as breastworks.”

Lieutenant Edward McClernand, of Terry’s column: “(The Custer Hill stand) showed more care taken in deploying and placing men than was shown in any other part of the entire field – including, of course, Reno’s several positions.”

Thunder Hawk’s wife: “It was quite a fight” (on Custer Hill)

Wooden Leg could see “that all the soldiers were killed except for a band that remained hidden behind their dead horses.”

Flying By: “(the stand) was made in the place where Custer would be killed, down at the end of the long ridge.”

Flying Hawk: “Custer made a stand on his hill.”

Gall: Gall neared the end of the ridge where the last soldiers were making a stand. “They were fighting good” he said.

Lights: he could see the soldiers who had fled the Keogh fight joining those making the stand on the hill.

Two Eagles: The most stubborn stand the soldiers made was on Custer Hill. From his position a short way north and west of that point, Two Eagles noticed the hilltop was very level and the soldiers took the spot to continue their defense. (…) “They were killed on top of the ridge” Two Eagles declared.

Red Hawk: The bluecoats were “falling back steadily to Custer Hill where another stand was made”, said Red Hawk. “Here the soldiers made a desperate fight.”

Two Moon: (…) Two Moon turned back to watch the fight. (…) The “grey bunch" was still fighting.

Standing Bear: Moving north along the ridge to where he could see better, Standing Bear noticed dismounted soldiers holding their horses by the bridles. “They were ready for us”, he said, and they began to shoot, “the bullets were just raining”. (…) Bear Horn rode up too close (to the last stand) and was himself shot down.

Iron Hawk: On Last Stand Hill, Iron Hawk saw about twenty men on horseback and about thirty men on foot. “The Indians pressed and crowded right in and around them on Custer Hill” But the soldiers weren’t ready to die. Said Iron Hawk,“We stood there a long time.”

Big Beaver: Big Beaver crawled back down the coulee to put a bit more distance between himself and the deadly soldiers bullets. (…) The Indians were rushing toward the hill where the soldiers were making their desperate fight.

http://www.custerwest.org


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: 7th; american; americans; battle; bighorn; bravery; cavalry; custer; heroism; history; indians; last; little; militaryhistory; native; stand; usa; war; west
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1 posted on 06/25/2007 6:45:13 AM PDT by drzz
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To: drzz

Back in 1995, I had the opportunity to visit the Little Big Horn battlefield.

I was there in the late afternoon and early evening after many of the tourists had left.

It was incredibly interesting and a little errie to be standing alone on top of Last Stand Hill with just the wind blowing.


2 posted on 06/25/2007 6:48:39 AM PDT by MplsSteve
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To: drzz

Here’s the score:

Indians 1
Custer 0


3 posted on 06/25/2007 6:50:54 AM PDT by Red Badger (Bite your tongue. It tastes a lot better than crow................)
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To: Red Badger

The real score is:

Custer : 3 (two battles of the Yellowstone, 1 Washita)

Indians : 1


4 posted on 06/25/2007 6:53:10 AM PDT by drzz
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To: MplsSteve

I was there in about 1984, and you are right, it is a little spooky.


5 posted on 06/25/2007 6:53:58 AM PDT by NavyCanDo
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To: drzz
Picked the wrong day to wear my Arrow shirt.
6 posted on 06/25/2007 6:54:00 AM PDT by Cheburashka (DUmmieland = Opus Dopium. In all senses of the word dope.)
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To: drzz

7 posted on 06/25/2007 6:54:56 AM PDT by drzz
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To: MplsSteve

Hello

See the testimonies posted here - I was there in 2002 and thought about fighting behind a slain horse until the end... Heroic and scary.


8 posted on 06/25/2007 6:55:52 AM PDT by drzz
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To: drzz

An example of what happens when arrogance (Custer) meets determination (Indians).................


9 posted on 06/25/2007 6:56:08 AM PDT by TexConfederate1861
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To: drzz
The last hill
10 posted on 06/25/2007 6:57:22 AM PDT by drzz
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To: TexConfederate1861

Misunderestimating the enemy bump.


11 posted on 06/25/2007 6:58:41 AM PDT by Sherman Logan (Diversity in theory is the enemy of diversity in practice.)
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To: TexConfederate1861

Hi Confederate

You should better see http://www.custerwest.org about what the witnesses and army officers really said about the battle.
You’ll be surprised. It’s known in the army circles at the time that the real story hadn’t been told to the American people. See the case on http://www.custerwest.org


12 posted on 06/25/2007 6:58:45 AM PDT by drzz
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To: Sherman Logan

Custer wanted to fight 1’500 warriors.

He fought 1’500 warriors.

Custer wanted to surprise the enemy.

He surprised the enemy.

Custer thought that the Indian organization was poor.

Indian testimonies talk about friendly fire and mess on the Indian side.

No underestimation here. see http://www.custerwest.org (English version)


13 posted on 06/25/2007 7:00:09 AM PDT by drzz
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To: MplsSteve
I was there for a day in the summer of 68.
I walked everywhere on the field to study tactics and see the markers. The last stand was indeed eerie. - I was awed.

Then I left for Glacier National, then Yellowstone.
I still have pictures, including those I took with that new invention - The Polaroid Swinger.

14 posted on 06/25/2007 7:00:41 AM PDT by bill1952 ("All that we do is done with an eye towards something else.")
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To: drzz

But that was in a different series...........


15 posted on 06/25/2007 7:00:42 AM PDT by Red Badger (Bite your tongue. It tastes a lot better than crow................)
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To: Red Badger

hehehe

yeah, it was the 1868 and 1873 years... Custer graduated in Indian fighting, but the Indians eventually disturbed the 1876 graduation day


16 posted on 06/25/2007 7:03:42 AM PDT by drzz
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To: drzz

Yeah except Little Big Horn was win or go home. Or in this case, die.


17 posted on 06/25/2007 7:03:49 AM PDT by FremontLives (If I must choose between righteousness and peace, I choose righteousness- Theodore Roosevelt)
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To: MplsSteve
I was there back in 1976. If there is a haunted battlefield, Last Stand Hill is it. It's a long way from anywhere, and to see the headstones, one here , three over there, a ragged trail of them headed down the hills toward the Little Big Horn, all sticking out of the sagebrush, half visible... And as a final touch, signs warning you to stay on the paved paths, because of the rattlesnakes.

There is something wild, and lonely, in a day of cellphones, and, "we will be right there..."

18 posted on 06/25/2007 7:04:06 AM PDT by jonascord (She walked thru the door, twirling a pair of 44s. And, in her hand was a gun...)
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To: drzz

The real score is:

Custer : 3 (two battles of the Yellowstone, 1 Washita)

Indians : 1

___________

Then to use the American football analogy, the score should be:

Indians: 8
Custer: 7

Custer scored 2 safeties and kicked a field goal, but on the last play of the game, the Indians scored a touchdown, and went for the win by going for a 2 point conversion, on which they were successful.

I’m not educated on this topic well enough to argue the merits of one side or the other, but given that Custer died on the battlefield, it would be hard to give him the winning score.


19 posted on 06/25/2007 7:04:49 AM PDT by dmz
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To: bill1952

We went in 72. I don’t recall the fence. Is that new?


20 posted on 06/25/2007 7:04:57 AM PDT by herMANroberts
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To: bill1952
The most accurate portrayal of the last stand is this:
21 posted on 06/25/2007 7:06:16 AM PDT by drzz
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To: MplsSteve

I agree.

Looking at the terrain and standing there you can literally see how the battle unfolded.


22 posted on 06/25/2007 7:06:44 AM PDT by Red6 (Come and take it.)
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To: drzz

Okay, then he obviously overestimated his own prowess.

Something didn’t work out too well.


23 posted on 06/25/2007 7:07:08 AM PDT by Sherman Logan (Diversity in theory is the enemy of diversity in practice.)
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To: MplsSteve
Back in 1995, I had the opportunity to visit the Little Big Horn battlefield.

My wife and I were there on about June 10 1995. Were you the guy in the cowboy boots? We over stayed our time allotment and we were a several of hours for our next stop. I have photos somewhere. A few years after our visit the whole Battlefield burned all the vegetation and the Parks Service was able to find many hidden artifacts. The were documented and left in place I believe...

24 posted on 06/25/2007 7:07:27 AM PDT by tubebender (Large reward for person offering leads to my missing tag lines...)
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To: herMANroberts
I don't think the fence is new Here's a picture of the battlefield in 1959:
25 posted on 06/25/2007 7:07:58 AM PDT by drzz
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To: drzz

What’s impressive is if you go there, the mounds that were dug still exist! Apparently they shot their own horses and used them as cover while another trooper would scrape up a little earth mound for better protection. It’s a pretty cool battlefield. Also while a very good picture, the area they held was a lot larger and they did set up a casualty collection point. You can tell that they though hastily, found well suited terrain to fend off attacks.


26 posted on 06/25/2007 7:11:43 AM PDT by Red6 (Come and take it.)
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To: Sherman Logan
Hello Sherman, Did you know that of 647 men with Custer, only 210 fought during the whole battle? 400 men, with Captain Benteen and Major Reno were detached for a front attack and scouting. William Taylor, private and survivor of the battle, wrote this: "Reno proved incompetent and Benteen showed his indifference – I will not use the uglier words that have often been in my mind. Both failed Custer and he had to fight it alone." (William Taylor, 02/20/1910) US general in chief Nelson A. Miles wrote in his autobiography in 1898 that Custer had been betrayed by both Benteen and Reno. The man responsible for the Reno Court of Inquiry, the only federal inquiry of the battle, agreed with Miles. See http://www.custerwest.org for the whole case
27 posted on 06/25/2007 7:13:26 AM PDT by drzz
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To: Sherman Logan

I’ve read a number of stories about why Custer’s attack failed.

One was due to archeological evidence showing that many troopers’ carbines were affected by continual jamming.

This led to a slower rate of fire and the Indians took advantage of this by moving in closer than they were earlier in the battle.

The decline in overall rate of fire apparently also rattled many of the troopers which could be noted by how separated they became from one another along Battle Ridge Hill.

This, of course, is only one possible scenario.


28 posted on 06/25/2007 7:13:45 AM PDT by MplsSteve
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To: Red6

Hello Red6,

I love the battlefield, I was there in 2002. If you go to http://www.custerwest.org, there are videos of the battlefield in 2007.

Medicine Tail Coulee, the coulee Custer got into to approach the village, is completely filled with water this year!


29 posted on 06/25/2007 7:14:49 AM PDT by drzz
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To: tubebender

LOL!

No cowboy boots. Shorts, t-shirt and tennis shoes.


30 posted on 06/25/2007 7:15:30 AM PDT by MplsSteve
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To: drzz

Thanx! I’m suffering from oldtimers disease.


31 posted on 06/25/2007 7:16:41 AM PDT by herMANroberts
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To: MplsSteve

Hello Steve,

The “jamming” only concerned 1% or less of the regiment. It’s a myth.

The real cause of the failure of the attack was that Custer didn’t have his full regiment in the battle. He divided his forces to attack the Indians by front and flank, but the other columns, led by Major Reno and Captain Benteen, never joined him.
see http://www.custerwest.org


32 posted on 06/25/2007 7:17:39 AM PDT by drzz
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To: herMANroberts

hehehe you were just so impressed by the grave that you forgot to see the fence! :-)


33 posted on 06/25/2007 7:18:22 AM PDT by drzz
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To: Vicomte13; Wombat101

and again


34 posted on 06/25/2007 7:18:52 AM PDT by investigateworld (The meanest lousiest SOB Jap POW camp commander was paroled in 1958, compare this to the BP guys)
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To: MplsSteve
The real question of Little Bighorn is why 400 men watched the battled from a point called Weir Point instead of joining Custer on Last Stand Hill. It's a betrayal. Here's what the witnesses said: Despite what countless books said, when Captain Weir reached a peak named afterwards Weir Point, Custer’s battle was still raging. Little Bighorn specialist Wayne Michael Sarf admits that many officers on Weir Point “apparently saw more than they would later admit. There is little doubt that (Lieutenant) Edgerly destroyed the portion of a letter to his wife dealing with the Weir Point episode.” Sergeant Charles Windolph remembered what he saw on Weir Point : “Way off to the north you could see what looked to be groups of mounted Indians. There was plenty of firing going on.” Lieutenant Hare was interviewed by Walter Camp, who wrote: “While out in advance with (Captain Weir’s) Company D, the Indians were thick over on Custer ridge and were firing. (Hare) thought Custer was fighting them.” Private Edward Pigford: “at first when looked toward Custer ridge the Indians were firing from a big circle, but it gradually closed until they seemed to converge into a large black mass on the side hill toward the river and all along the ridge.” Captain Weir was watching his comrades battling without helping them, because Benteen and Reno were still on their hill. When Benteen eventually reached Weir Point, he put an American flag on the peak to “show my position to Custer. The bugle began to sound on Custer Hill, which means that Custer was watching the flag or the dust of the other battalions and was using the bugle as a signal. Custer’s men asked for help, after having waited for Benteen and Reno… during more than two hours! Sitting Bull: “As (Custer’s soldiers) they stood to be killed they were seen to look far away to the hills in all directions and we knew they were looking for the hidden soldiers (Benteen’s and Reno’s soldiers) in the hollows of the hills to come and help them.” A little band, led by warchief Low Dog, eventually attacked the men on Weir Point while the battle on Custer Hill was still raging (see Michno). Benteen decided to withdraw his troops, according to Private George Glenn and Lieutenant Francis Gibson. The troops fell back without any rear guard, just like Reno had done in the woods. Lieutenant Godfrey decided to deploy his men on his own initiative. He later said to the Reno Court of Inquiry: Question by the court: “Was the engagement severe in and around (Weir Point)?” Answer by Lieutenant Godfrey “No severe engagement at all (on Weir Point).” Question by the court: “Was there much firing on the part of the Indians down at that point up to the time to command started to go back (from Weir Point to Reno Hill)?” Answer by Lieutenant Godfrey: “No, sir.” Question by the court: “State if the Indians drove (Weir’s and Benteen’s) command from that position (Weir Point).” Answer by Lieutenant Edgerly: “They did not. The orders were to fall back and we fell back.” 400 men fell back without ever supporting the last stand. Custer would never have the support he had asked for during more than two hours. His heroic last stand would end at 6.20 p.m., almost at the time Reno had reached Reno Hill again. A betrayal had just happened at Little Bighorn. A betrayal that would be covered during a century, and which is still covered up by many scholars and historians. Major General Thomas Rosser, cavalry officer during the Civil War, wrote in 1876: “As a soldier, I would sooner lie in the grave of General Custer and his gallant comrades alone in that distant wilderness, that when the last trumpet sounds, I could rise to judgment from my part of duty, than to live in the place of the survivors of the siege on the hills.”
35 posted on 06/25/2007 7:20:02 AM PDT by drzz
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To: drzz
This was a big car trip for our family.

I also drove about 160 miles out of our way to go to Dodge City, where we saw plastic tombstones and a train station and turned around. I still hear about that from my kids. And yes, we saw the world's second largest ball of twine.

36 posted on 06/25/2007 7:20:42 AM PDT by herMANroberts
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To: MplsSteve
Didn’t the Indians have “repeating rifles” and Custer still using the single shot of the civil war?
37 posted on 06/25/2007 7:21:29 AM PDT by tubebender (Large reward for person offering leads to my missing tag lines...)
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To: drzz

Custer was in charge. His plan failed, and he and all the men under his direct command at the time died.

That’s about as clear an example of poor military judgment as there can be.

Especially as he was attacking and chose the fight, it wasn’t one he was forced into.

Custer’s a very interesting guy. I’ve read a couple of books about him. But nobody ever accused of being prudent or careful. He was one of the very best Union cavalry officers, but only if you wanted a wild charge rather than cool, collected planning of an attack.

I find it very difficult to think that he would have tried such an attack against a similar number of Jeb Stuart’s men. To me this indicates that he underestimated the fighting ability of the Indians, and they killed him for it.


38 posted on 06/25/2007 7:22:15 AM PDT by Sherman Logan (Diversity in theory is the enemy of diversity in practice.)
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To: herMANroberts

Excellent account of the travel! Visiting the West is so exciting - when I went to LBH, after visiting Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills, we traveled several miles without any building, just a road, a little fence and the Plains.
You just begin to feel like you’re John Wayne.


39 posted on 06/25/2007 7:22:48 AM PDT by drzz
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To: tubebender

Hello

In fact, the repeating rifles had poor range and the Indians quickly began to use arrows and bows to protect themselves.
But as it’s shown on http://www.custerwest.org , the Indian casualties are today estimated as high as 200-250. The battle was hard, 210 men were fighting with Custer to the death, and 400 were out of the battle with Benteen and Reno.


40 posted on 06/25/2007 7:25:27 AM PDT by drzz
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To: drzz

We went about 10 miles on a dirt road to get closer to the Devil’s Tower. Had to see it after Close Encounters......


41 posted on 06/25/2007 7:25:50 AM PDT by herMANroberts
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To: Sherman Logan

Custer wasn’t in charge of the men under his direct command.

400 men of his own regiment didn’t join him or support him during the combat.

As it turned out I think Custer did make a mistake in going in with a divided force, not that the division of itself would have been fatal but because Reno failed to hold a leg even if he couldn’t skin.

__

Lieutenant Edward Godfrey, Company K, 7th cavalry, after Little Bighorn

(Sklenar, Larry, To Hell with Honor, p.262)


42 posted on 06/25/2007 7:26:40 AM PDT by drzz
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To: Sherman Logan
There was an old line, I can't remember the source.

What was Custer doing leading his men into the Little Big Horn that day?

Starting his presidential campaign.

43 posted on 06/25/2007 7:27:14 AM PDT by herMANroberts
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To: herMANroberts

I have a nice story about the Devil’s Tower. We were still on the road at night and we didn’t find any hostel. We just passed near the Devil’s Tower on 1 a.m. and eventually found an excellent ranch after having thought of sleeping in the car.

When we came back to Switzerland, everybody was excited about our picture of the Devil’s Tower at night... :-)


44 posted on 06/25/2007 7:28:45 AM PDT by drzz
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To: herMANroberts

The presidential theory is an hoax.

Custer had freedom to pursue the Indians and get them if he could.

What screwed up that day was Benteen’s and Reno’s behavior during the battle.


45 posted on 06/25/2007 7:31:13 AM PDT by drzz
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To: vetvetdoug; Valin; snippy_about_it; SAMWolf

46 posted on 06/25/2007 7:32:11 AM PDT by stainlessbanner
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To: drzz

Let’s see. I have 650 men. The enemy has 1,500 (although Custer may not have known this).

My plan to deal with being outnumbered more than 2/1 is to split my men into three roughly equal-sized groups, inviting defeat in detail.

Sounds like an excellent plan to me.


47 posted on 06/25/2007 7:32:45 AM PDT by Sherman Logan (Diversity in theory is the enemy of diversity in practice.)
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To: tubebender

It was my impression that Custer’s men were uniformly equipped with single shot carbines.

The Indians also had carbines too but not to the same extent as Custer’s men did. They made extensive use of the bow and arrow.


48 posted on 06/25/2007 7:36:33 AM PDT by MplsSteve
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To: stainlessbanner

Here’s another good map (it’s from the NPS’s web site):

http://www.nps.gov/libi/planyourvisit/upload/LIBImap1.pdf


49 posted on 06/25/2007 7:37:46 AM PDT by MplsSteve
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To: Sherman Logan

Front and flank attack, movement, offensive, surprise.

That’s the way to attack a force in the cavalry, and that’s what Custer did. As US general in chief Nelson Miles and Confederate cavalry general Rosser said, the plan was good.

The front columns didn’t do their job, and the flank column, with Custer, was left alone.


50 posted on 06/25/2007 7:38:37 AM PDT by drzz
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