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Old April 2, 2021, 10:55 AM   #26
105kw
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From what I've read the difference in firing pin strikes can indicate which 44RF fired the cartridge. One of them used a double firing pin, the other used a single.
FWIW the 1866 Winchester was originally called the Improved Henry.

At least two of Custers scouts were carrying Henry's. They wanted the improved firepower.
One of them was Charley Reynolds. Both were with Reno, and both were killed in the attack and rout retreat.
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Old April 2, 2021, 02:18 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Aguila Blanca View Post
How were those 108 artifacts associated with Winchester 1866's? Everything I have read about the battle suggests that the Indians has 1860 Henry rifles, not Winchester 1866's. I'm pretty sure Custer's troopers didn't have either Henrys or Winchesters.
In Scott's book, Archaeological Perspectives on the BLBH, he quit frequently mentions the Henry rifles as well as the Winchester 66' rifles. On pages 162, 163, 164, 165, 166 he talks about the 44's. There he explains the Henry, Win 66 and 73'. Also done in his earlier books. He also explains the henry and 66 misfire problems and shell extraction problems. If the shell is not noted to have been extracted, the recovered cases would show the double rimfire striker marks. Some of the double striker marks, used on both the Henry and 66, show deeper impressions, deeper strikers typical of the improved 66 design, but was changed back to the shorter in later arms and reverted back to prone misfires, so Scott reports!

There is no reason to suspect that all of a sudden there were no 66's used by the warriors. If they can get at least 11 or so 73's in three years, certainly they had a fair share of 66's. There were numerous Henry Flat bullets recovered from the fields.

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Old April 2, 2021, 07:58 PM   #28
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Every battle is confusing, and the only survivor from Custer's immediate command was Myles Keogh's horse Comanche who never spoke about it. Custer fought a very poor battle, no proper recon, divided his forces, not mutually supporting, badly misunderestimated the enemy both in numbers and fighting ability. Then there all the stories about the Indians "pumping their Winchesters", etc.
I do not believe all the stories about how Bad Custer was and the mistakes as reported by some. Dividing his troops and his plan of attack were a common tactic used in the Civil war taught at West Point etc. Regardless of a ego or not, he proved true leadership in the Civil War and no one questioned his bravery.

By the way, some years ago National Geographic did a great series on The Battle of the Bighorn. I take a lot of the hearsay of Custer Being inept and his ego as the cause of the slaughter with a grain of salt. There are two sides of the story.
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Old April 3, 2021, 01:59 AM   #29
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Dividing his troops and his plan of attack were a common tactic used in the Civil war taught at West Point etc. Regardless of a ego or not, he proved true leadership in the Civil War and no one questioned his bravery.
First point, Custer's personal courage isn't an issue.

Second, and primary point, history judges him inept because of 20/20 hindsight, and the ultimate military error, he lost.

Splitting your forces so as to be able to attack multiple objectives is an old tactic and taught in the academies, BUT they also teach that it only works when the correlation of forces is in your favor. And they also teach that when that situation does not exist, you invite defeat in detail.

NO one teaches you to split up your forces when you are outnumbered, and that was the cardinal error of Custer's attack, he did not recognize the situation for what it actually was, and executed his plans based on what he wanted it to be. In that, he is hardly alone in military history.

In many cases, a leader's failure to accurately understand the situation before engaging is ascribed to their ego. Sometimes that is accurate, sometimes not. Most accounts paint Custer as someone who was right, until he was very badly wrong.
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Old April 3, 2021, 03:21 AM   #30
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First point, his ego not a issue. If you want to define his character then define all of it, including is Civil War accomplishments including his bravery. Most Generals or many had big Ego's. But this is not always the case on the battlefield

Second point Lol, I never said that anyone teaches you divide forces when you are outnumbered. Obviously he did not have exact numbers or any true idea he was outnumbered. He was not suicidal.
You say, his decision was based on "What he wanted it to be". What he wanted was or do, was accomplish his mission and of course he wanted to be successful. He was a busy man that day, annualizing all kinds of conflicting opinions and options. Easy to say in hindsight what you are anyone else wants to arm chair. Maybe not so easy in reality.
From "Did Custer use the wrong guns"

“The battle took place over a six-mile field and Custer’s units were scattered on different portions of it,” Jasmer said. “The battle was not over as quickly as we previously thought back in the 1980s. It took about an hour-and-a-half. Custer had divided his force, so the tribesmen were able to defeat the four separate parts of the regiment piecemeal.”
From Guns used by Custer

https://www.guns.com/news/2011/05/03...the-wrong-guns

10 myths of the Battle of the Bighorn for starters. Like I said, two sides to every story.


https://www.historynet.com/ten-myths...le-bighorn.htm

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Old April 3, 2021, 04:16 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Savvy_Jack View Post
I know there is great debate over this issue, what's new right? I have been working on mapping out some artifact recovery locations between 1984 and 2004.

The following video clip (see link below) is not finished, may never be finished, so I wanted to share what I have so far for the Reno-Benteen Defense area. I still have a few items to add.

45-55 Cases
45-55-405 Bullets
44 Henry Cases and Bullets
a few 44-40 cases
50-70 items

I still need to add 45 Colt items too.

Kind of gives an idea as to the positions when shooting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6veJ8euWKA

Might as well link to the one from the Custer Battle Field too. It's a bit cheezy but it works.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y05aeFNxn1U
Great work Jack.
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Old April 3, 2021, 06:26 AM   #32
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Thanks guys!

I really would like to know more about the Henry and 66's. Here is a group of spent or mis-fired cartridges. Wonder which was from Henry's and which was from the 66's

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...gid=1599374672
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Old April 3, 2021, 10:10 AM   #33
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It would be Interesting to see how many Henry's the Indians actually carried , which Tribes and ammo availability for them. I have read that Custer's cavalry carried 100 rds for the Springfield and 50 rds for the Colt.

Some more info on the Springfield and ammo.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springfield_model_1873

Many types of weapons used. Military did little target practice.

https://www.historynet.com/battle-of...ing-factor.htm

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Old April 3, 2021, 12:54 PM   #34
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Obviously he did not have exact numbers or any true idea he was outnumbered.
He observed the immense pony herds before he even ordered movement. He should have known what that many horses meant.

That 10 myths link conveniently leaves out a lot of conflicting eyewitness accounts trying to make its point. I quoted previously Chief John Grass, who personally knew Custer, saw him shot and killed at first contact. Custer was no longer in command after his column made contact.

The Sioux knew Custer's column was circling around to the North and were waiting for them. He rode into an ambush and his command was destroyed. Multiple eye witness accounts of the day, both from Weir (a company commander) and from Sioux say the fight was over in about 30 minutes. Weir observed the Sioux firing at the ground at 5:05, apparently mopping up.

There were multiple 'last stands' as evidenced by the widely scattered casings and reports from Terry's column when they arrived. I read that they found roughly 40 bodies on last stand hill with breastworks made of shot horses, including Custer and his relatives, but I can't find any digitized source material.
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Old April 3, 2021, 12:54 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Carl the Floor Walker
Second point Lol, I never said that anyone teaches you divide forces when you are outnumbered. Obviously he did not have exact numbers or any true idea he was outnumbered. He was not suicidal.
But he DID have an idea he was outnumbered. He was told by his scouts that they had never seen an Indian encampment nearly as large as this one. Custer ignored that, and assumed that these Indians would react as other (smaller) encampments had in the past -- by trying to evacuate the women and children.

"He chose poorly." [Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail]

Or, as General George Patton said: "Successful generals make plans to fit circumstances, but do not try to create circumstances to fit plans." Custer had a plan that did not fit the circumstances, and he chose not to recognize that.
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Old April 3, 2021, 04:09 PM   #36
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I tried to find an essay I did on The Battle Of Little Big Horn from the Kate 80s - I don’t have any thing to read 5 1/4 floppies. I recall Custer had aspirations to campaign for the Presidency of the USA. I believe he had Gatling guns in his TOE, Table Organization Equipment, however, he decided not to take them as they would have slowed him down.
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Old April 3, 2021, 04:23 PM   #37
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I remember using this Treasure magazine as a source for my essay and two books which I probably still own (but in storage):
https://www.friendslittlebighorn.com/Dig-of-1984.htm
I wonder what they could find with today’s metal detectors?
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Old April 3, 2021, 04:43 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Aguila Blanca View Post
But he DID have an idea he was outnumbered. He was told by his scouts that they had never seen an Indian encampment nearly as large as this one. Custer ignored that, and assumed that these Indians would react as other (smaller) encampments had in the past -- by trying to evacuate the women and children.

"He chose poorly." [Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail]

Or, as General George Patton said: "Successful generals make plans to fit circumstances, but do not try to create circumstances to fit plans." Custer had a plan that did not fit the circumstances, and he chose not to recognize that.
Actually he did have conflicting accounts at the beginning, but eventually did listen to his scouts and knew their size. He had originally planned to attack the Village the next day. However after listening to the Scouts and seeing other Indians picking up supplies they had left on the trail with his binoculars, he then changed his original plan and attacked earlier that day rather than wait which was what the Scouts advised to him.

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Old April 3, 2021, 07:35 PM   #39
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Another point, Custer hadn't been promoted since he he accepted a rank of Lt. Col in the 7th. He was the defacto C.O., but Col Sturgis was the commander. He refused to serve in the west. So Custer had command, with no promotion.
He wasn't the Boy General anymore, but was coming up on his 37th birthday.
And hadn't been in the news since The Dakotas expedition.

The Gatling guns were on artillery carriages, with caissons, towed by condemned cavalry horses. Probably not the best thing if you're going over broken country. At least that was Custer thoughts, apparently.
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Old April 3, 2021, 10:38 PM   #40
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Custer rode hard, fast and long. His troops referred to him as Iron Butt.
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Old April 4, 2021, 06:32 PM   #41
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I don't think Custer was an idiot because of one mistake at the Little Big Horn any more than Lee was for ordering Pickett's Charge. Custer had a great battlefield record through the Civil War rising from a mere lieutenant to a major general. Custer messed up in his last battle but he sure wasn't an idiot.
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Old April 6, 2021, 12:27 PM   #42
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I have read that more has been written about the Little Big Horn than about Gettysburg.
It has the advantage that because of its smaller scale we can see many of the participants as individuals. And came as a jolt to our national ego in our centennial year, the idea that our finest "Indian fighting" outfit could be defeated-annihilated-by a bunch of "savages".
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Old April 7, 2021, 09:43 AM   #43
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I've been interested in the research into Custer's sidearm(s).
Sometimes described as "Bulldogs", which can refer to any number of short-barreled British revolvers, there was a good article in, IIRC, Guns & Ammo magazine, in which they advocated for Custer's guns being Webley RICs, based on when that gun became available, and when Custer went on campaign.
I think the 1st Pattern RIC was the only gun chambered in .442 Webley, so if any cartridge cases of that type were found, it would be confirmed.

A friend gave me a very rough RIC, and its condition suggests it may have been buried in Montana for 140 years!
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Old April 7, 2021, 10:10 AM   #44
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I'm going to have to go back and re-read my books on Little Bighorn.
As I remember Custer carried 2 Webley RIC revolvers, in .442. He was described as wearing both in flap holsters on his belt.
His rifle was a Sporting Model Remington rolling block. It was either a .44-77 or a .50-70.
None of his guns were ever recovered.
When the first Cavalry made it to the battlefield, it was said that Custer had fired his guns because they found his distinctive brass. So either his rifle or revolvers were fired in the final battle.
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Old April 7, 2021, 11:24 AM   #45
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I don't think Custer was an idiot because of one mistake at the Little Big Horn any more than Lee was for ordering Pickett's Charge. Custer had a great battlefield record through the Civil War rising from a mere lieutenant to a major general. Custer messed up in his last battle but he sure wasn't an idiot.
Apart from Trevillan Station, Custer did fight well in the Civil War. His promotions though were in the Volunteer Service and not the regular service. Post-Civil War he could because of courtesy be addressed as general (of volunteers) but in the regular service he was still a lt. col. That's not bad for being a mere lieutenant in 1861. A lot of other generals in the volunteer service were given colonelcys in the post-war army. Music instructor Benjamin Grierson who led Grierson's Raid (cavalry raid from TN to Baton Rouge) or division commander Maj. Gen. (Vol) Regis de Trobriand were both colonels (Regulars) post war.

This practice continued even in WW II. All those stars Ike, Patton, Bradley and other generals wore were temporary ranks until later confirmed by Congress.

Custer, if anything, was contemptuous of the American Indian. He relied on his experience at that language banned battlefield I linked to earlier and hoped to use the same tactics at Little Big Horn. Didn't quite work out that way there. One irony is that in 1869 the Seventh was still armed with Spencer lever action repeating carbine that were less prone to jam (because of the poor ammunition) than their Sharps (issued 1870). See John McAulay's Carbines of the U. S. Cavalry 1861-1905.
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Old April 7, 2021, 11:53 AM   #46
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A lot of the shine on Custer's career is the results of his widow's tireless campaign to promote his memory.

Take a deep look at his career and it is... somewhat checkered. He was dead last in his class at West Point, and I believe set a record for demerits.

He was a horse thief.

During his Indian campaign days he was court martialed for being among other things, being AWOL. Imagine a senior commander pulling an AWOL. He was found guilty and suspended without pay for a year.
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Old April 7, 2021, 04:25 PM   #47
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I believe Grant was a the end of his class as well. And a alcoholic. But a damn fine General. I am a big Jeb Stuart fan, and I would bet if you asked him if Custer was a fine, gallant, Calvary officer in all respects he would say Hell Yes.
People can spit on Custer's grave and legacy all they want. Personally I would salute him. No matter how you cut it, Custer was up against 3 thousand to 6 thousand enemy hell bent on killing him and every one of his Calvary. Maybe in hindsight, he should have just hauled ass home. Even then, would he have made it. Lol,only God knows.

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Old April 8, 2021, 11:01 AM   #48
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40+ years ago I did a high school paper on George A. Custer.
Can't find/remember the references I used but do remember that one of them in our school library included a bit that there were two different George A. Custer's in the army and that there may have been some confusion between the two and the one at Little Big Horn may have received a promotion intended for the other.

I'm not going to spend a lot of time wading through internet searches but such a thing could never happen in military personnel actions could it? One personal anecdote about such things. I had a driver, Spec 4, for a while in the Army that was assigned to such duties because his security clearance had been pulled and could not perform his normal duties. Almost a year later his clearance was reinstated. It turned out that my 5' 8" Caucasian driver had the same name as a 6' 3" Black soldier and that was why his clearance was suspended. So mistaken identity does not seem out of reach.
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Old April 8, 2021, 11:49 AM   #49
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Regardless of Custer's actions at the Last Stand, History is so interesting. I am fascinated by Gettyburg and Civil war. Also have spent a lot of study of Doc Holliday. I remember visiting Tombstone when just a kid. Still have a book my Dad bought from a Old Geezer who was about 85 or 90 at the time, and had him autograph the book. I live in Virginia and it is so chock full of American history, battlefields etc. I would love to have my own time machine. To go back into history, not forward. Forward is too frighting.
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Old April 10, 2021, 05:32 PM   #50
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Great thread. I read Ambrose's book on Custer and agree that Custer made a hell of a mistake that day. Just ordered the Scott book and look forward to reading it.
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