Today is the 133rd anniversary of the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
What could possibly be said that hasn't been said already?
How about Custer was murdered?
Looney? Have I been collecting 'conspiracy theories' so long that I'm seeing historical spooks (spooks, hmmmm)? Nope.
What I think is a matter of putting facts together, especially pieces long unconsidered or obfuscated.
First, we need to get past the collectivist revision of history that Custer was just some Indian hating nutjob. He was a man, not a nut nor a shining hero. Study his military record. I'd rather have Custer at my back than U.S. Grant or Sherman. He was a man of honor and expressed sympathy for Indians. He also was helping expose a corrupt Grant Administration. The evidence is there. Again, as I say, search for yourself. Don't read an essay nor a dissertation and say for sure. Dig.
Why did I mention murder? It could be speculation. Nothing conclusive. But the evidence points to gross negligence by Captain Benteen and Major Reno, the officers in charge of the other two thirds of the divided command. I'm not taking time here to reiterate the whole battle. Look at www.custerwest.org. There is a plethora of views and evidence supporting my opinion and one of the most comprehensive collections of research about the Battle and participants.
The Indian accounts conflict with Reno's and Benteen's. Plus, there is a marked dicrepancy within just years re the officers' accounts.
Benteen said there were around 1500 warriors at the battle in 1876. By 1879 he claimed there were 9000. Reno was more conservative as it were. In 1876 he said 2000 and in 1879 there were 'at least' 4000.
Benteen said Custer's fight was a complete rout. Hollow Horn Bear said the soldiers were organized and fighting very hard. Moving Robe said it was a hotly contested battle. Crow King saluted Custer and his men by saying he had never seen soldiers so brave and fearless. White Bull claimed it was a very hard battle.
Benteen further stated Custer's fight was over in an hour. Sitting Bull simply said the battle lasted three hours. Horned Horse answered even more simply that it took a while to kill all the soldiers. Crow King declared it took three or four hours.
Also the size of the Indian village grew considerably over the next three years after the 'last stand'.
Nelson Miles was General in Chief of the U.S. Army when he wrote his autobiography. He had studied the battle and found it odd that an inquiry was not asked for.
His research was thorough as he did reenactments and asked witnesses as well as visiting the site several times. BTW, General Miles and his troops defeated Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Chief Joseph and Geronimo. These were not cinches but hard fought. And unlike the movies took more than a few minutes with no music save for a bugle call or two. He spent 22 years coming to his conclusions.
As to what would have been the outcome if Reno had not retreated, the Indians would have left. And they would have been between two fires, two hard fighting commands.
Custer had fought gallantly and given proper and judicious orders as well.
When Miles went to the battlefield with soldiers, he discovered that fifteen minutes would have brought the commands together with a different outcome. And Benteen should have struck out straight for Custer. Benteen said arrogantly he thought Custer able to take care of himself. Of course Miles knew any commander couldn't win with 7/12s of his command in rifle shot but NOT there.
Custer actually sent an order for Benteen to 'come on and be quick'. He refused.
Reno concurred that he didn't think Custer needed help quickly. Uhuh.
Search for yourself.
As for murder, it's just my hunch, though there is some study on the matter.
Many a 'problem' has been solved for despots by eliminating exposure (Vince Foster etal.).
Could have been pure cowardice and incompetence. There has always been plenty of that.
IMHO, we could use some commanders now like Custer and Miles. And for that matter some like Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. Men of honor who keep their oaths.
Hoka Hey and Garry Owen.
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