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"More Custer questions for Garry Owen" Topic

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Comments or corrections?

Korvessa08 Sep 2012 9:49 a.m. PST

1) I have heard a couple of people mention that Custer died at the river. I thought that was more or less disproven. I kn ow one native account mentioned that they killed someone in buckskins, but they described thee wrong horse (IIRC). Also he was left wwith HQ staaff and rouinds from his personel weapon.
2) I don't believe Tom shot him.
3) About the weapons – didn't the archelogical evidence show there wasn't that many jamming failures?

Korvessa08 Sep 2012 11:33 a.m. PST

Forgot one thing:
In the Finnish movie Talvisota there is a scene where one of the guys gets blown to pieces by an arty round. They tell his family he died from a single shot to the heart to spare their feelings.
To get back to GAC, I read one book that suggests the surviving officers of the 7th did the same thing for Libby and Custer was mutilated with the others

SECURITY MINISTER CRITTER Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member08 Sep 2012 12:48 p.m. PST

If I remember one thing, was that Custer was one of the ones unscalped as he was going bald, and Indians didn't scalp bald men. Also he was so mutilated that he was only identified by his buckskins.

CooperSteveOnTheLaptop08 Sep 2012 1:34 p.m. PST

If Custer wasn't mutilated it probably suggests he was critically wounded early on. Plains natives mutilated those who fought the hardest.

John Leahy Sponsoring Member of TMP08 Sep 2012 7:20 p.m. PST

Custer was not badly mutilated. He and Keogh were one of the few that weren't. There is the story about Custer's genital mutilation. Remember, nobody said that Custer was badly mutilated regardless of Libby even in later years. Keogh carried a Papal medal on him which the Indians considered big medicine.

No Indians recognized Custer that day. I have heard that speculated. But no verification has ever been made. Indian accounts are pretty unreliable for the most part. It is an interesting thought though and would certainly explain the 7th's less than stellar performance that day and put a completely different spin on the battle.

Both Scott and Fox's reports showed some jamming. However, it was not a serious factor in the battle. The carbine had superb hitting power, good range and was fairly dependable. It just was not as suitable in a close ranged firefight due to it's lower rate of fire. Remember, the same carbine was used throughout the Indian Wars by the Cavalry. It was never condemned as failing in any other battle.



Personal logo Ironwolf Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2012 2:10 a.m. PST

"Indian accounts are pretty unreliable for the most part."

I disagree with this. A couple books that have been released in the last few years have indicated the indian stories matched more with the archeology done on the battle field than anything else.

On Custer being shot near the river (medicine tail coulee)I'm a believer of this and let me explain why.

1. Custer was an aggresive commander during the ACW and in fighting the indians. His tactic was to keep moving and engaging the enemy.
2. Survivors from Custers command indicated he wanted to cross into the indian village to draw warriors away from Reno. After he saw from Weir Point that Reno was heavily out numbered.
3. When soldiers were starting to cross medicine tail coulee and the one wearing buckskin was shot along with two or three other soldiers. The indians said the soldiers gathered around the one in buckskin, gathered him up and fled. Leaving behind one of their dead and a wounded soldier. So the indians thought the bucksin man must have been important.
4. After this incident, custers command pretty much goes defensive. The companies were dismounted and put in line. Several of the company officers then left their commands and met with Tom Custer and George Custer. Why??
5. During this the indians started to over run the soldiers that were out in defensive lines. The different companies started to collapse. Many of the men were killed while fleeing towards where Custer and most of the Officers had grouped together.

So after the first attempt to cross the river into the indian camp at the medicine tail coulee. Custers command stops being on the offensive and starts going defensive. Why? I believe cause Custer was the wounded buckskin soldier carried off at the medicine tail coulee. Once he was wounded and unable to lead. His brother and fellow officers went defensive to figure out what they were going to do next. During this the indians overwhelmed custers command. Why else did Custer's tactics change? The very tactics that had shown him success since the civil war.

bandit86 Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2012 2:13 a.m. PST

The only thing I heard the Native Americans did to Custer was that the women punctured his eardrum with awls because he would not listen. (maybe just another myth) as was most of the story.
The New Explorers: Betrayal at Little Big Horn was on netflix if you get that. Thought it a a good show and take on the battle

Personal logo Ironwolf Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2012 2:17 a.m. PST

Of all the books I have read indicated Custer's body had a wound to his side and one to the side of his head. I have also heard his eardrums were punctured by the women with awls.

Now his brother george, totally different story. From what I read his head was smashed in and his heart was cut out of his chest. The only way they were able to identify his remains was by a tattoo.

Personal logo deephorse Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2012 4:47 a.m. PST

Now his brother george, totally different story. From what I read his head was smashed in and his heart was cut out of his chest. The only way they were able to identify his remains was by a tattoo.

That was Tom wasn't it?

Jeroen7209 Sep 2012 6:54 a.m. PST

Yes, Tom Custer was badly mutilated.

Jeroen7209 Sep 2012 6:55 a.m. PST

1) I have heard a couple of people mention that Custer died at the river. I thought that was more or less disproven. I kn ow one native account mentioned that they killed someone in buckskins, but they described thee wrong horse (IIRC). Also he was left wwith HQ staaff and rouinds from his personel weapon.


And Custer didn't wear buckskin at the LBH.

Seventhcav09 Sep 2012 9:26 a.m. PST

Custer had given the order to Benteen to Hurry up and meet him on what is now known as Custer and Calhoun Hills. Custer was there waiting for Benteen. He did send a company or two down to do examine the village at the river but I feel he would have stayed on the hill waiting for Benteen. Benteen had the largest column of soldiers when the pack train was included. Custer knew that Benteen had received his orders because his nephew Boston had rode his horse from Benteen's column to Custer's position. Custer was waiting for more troops. What he did not know was that Benteen would drag his feet and disobey his orders. This included watering the horses for thirty minutes and defering to Major Reno's judgement. Custer was not the only soldier or officer in buckskins that day. Mitch Boyer and even Tom Custer are amung the several soldiers that were there that could have been in buckskin.

John Leahy Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Sep 2012 10:08 a.m. PST

Seventh Cav nailed it! I couldn't say it any better.

There were several officers wearing buckskin and there is no way to confirm it. No Indians recognized Custer in any of the accounts.

Sadly Indian accounts even from the same Indian would vary widely based on who was listening, who was interpreting and at what age the story was told. This is why almost all of them have been discounted. Now I did not say all of them. Some do provide solid info. However, there lack of time reference and numbers make things very difficult to plug in a timeline.



Garryowen Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2012 10:42 a.m. PST

Custer had buckskin pants on on the day of the battle. Early in the day he wor his jcket. An Arikara (Ree) scout, I think it was Soldier, but I am too lazy to go look it up, saw him remove his jacket and tie it behind his saddle around the lone tepee site on Reno Creek. Soldier is more specific than I am. I just don't remember the exact location.

I don't think Custer was hit at the river. I am too lazy of a typist to go into a full dissertation. You can get an excellent discussion of this if interested in Greg Michno's Lakota Noon. Read the footnotes. Some of the best info is there. Also read his discussion at the end of the chapters.

I fyou want to read the best single account of the day of the battle, it is Lakota Noon by Michno. He took the effort to realy work with the Indian accounts to make sense of them. He used a big map with markers, like mapbard wargame counters to track them around the battlefield. His discussions at the end of the chapters is superb. Here is where he puts in evidence other than the Indian accounts that make up the body of the chapters. He also has excellent discussions of the knowledge gained by the Fox led metal detection, but also its failures. Some of which were so signficant in my opinion, that I think the conclusions drawn by Fox have probably done more harm than good. The data is great, just watch your conclusions.

The biggest problem is the notion that if his work did not find cartridge cases, there was no serious fighting. Any one who came before him was a "relic hunter". He admits that relic hunters "biased" the findings bytheri removal of "relics" in the past. However, he states the opinion that there is no reason to belie3ve the relics were not uniformly removed from the battlefiled as a whole so that the reuslts of his findings are valid for interpretation.

As he found few cases on Custer Hil, there was no last stand as we have come to know it. He found relatively fewer cases there than on Calhoun Hill or other parts of the field.

Nonsense! Custer Hill was a favorite picnic spo for people from Ft. Custer buillt the next year. They picked up cartridge cases all the time that were just lying on top of the gorund. If he thinks people wandered all over the ravines and hillsides to remove artifacts uniiformly, I have a bridge in Brooklyln to sell him.

I said I did not want to type a dissertation and here I went.

By the way, some years ago a letter by then Lt. GOdfrey who was in Benteen's battalion came up for sale. He saw Custer's body. I read a copy of the letter. Godfrey said an arrow had been shoved up General Custer's penis. If Godfrey said the moon was made out of green cheese, I would be half tempted to believe him. All desribed him as a perfect gentleman.

Forgive the typos, I am doing this at machine gun speed…well, fast for me at least.


RudyNelson09 Sep 2012 10:44 a.m. PST

Just curious. I am enjoying this dicussion. My question is "Are any of these location or troop position comments based on the revisions cited after the grass fire in the battlefield park that revealed large amounts of evidence that countered earlier position thoughts?"

Not to defend Beteen but as an Amry officer, there were a number of battlefield excercises where an order by a Colonel was superceded later by another officer such as a Captain or Major. So if Reno gave him superceded orders he acted correctly. Was that not what the court-martial ruled anyway?

John Leahy Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Sep 2012 11:50 a.m. PST

Yeah, I hadn't thought of the relic hunters aspect on the archaeology until Tom mentioned it and then I read Lakota Noon. Makes complete sense and highlights how you have to take what Scott and Fox found with a grain of salt.

I believe they provided more info on Indian positions and firepower than Cavalry ones. Although the Custer Hill defense was one of those they discussed.

Hey Rudy. As was mentioned on the other Custer thread when given a written order by your CO you have no discretion other than to try and follow that order. A lesser officer cannot countermand that order. I would also suggest that in no account was it noted that Benteen mentioned to Reno that he had that written order from Custer. The bottom line is that by the time he met with Reno his chances to reach Custer were mostly gone. It was the combination of his dragging his feet and completely ignoring his order at question. IF he had done as ordered, He never would have meet Reno. He would have been long gone. My postulation is simply that Benteen's Battalion could have reached Custer earlier and that while he wouldn't have changed the outcome he likely would have seen some of Custer's Battalion escape the result which did occur.

Lastly, the Courtmartial was a travesty in almost every way. The Army was not concerned with reaching the truth of the matter but merely with protecting the reputation of the Army and various personalities. Regardless of the truth, no officer or enlisted man would say a bad thing about Benteen based on his performance in saving the Command later in the battle. The honor of the regiment was at stake. Custer was dead. It was the Centennial and the worst defeat in the Plain's War. Someone had to pay the price. The country, military and Administration called for it. Who better than the dead Custer to pay the price?



RudyNelson09 Sep 2012 1:02 p.m. PST

Thanks, John

Cincinnatus Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2012 1:22 p.m. PST

There are accounts that some of the rangers(or people who worked at the site) not only knew people were taking items from the battlefield through the years but that they would even seed certain well traveled areas so that the tourist would find stuff. That doesn't completely discount the archeological findings but it does mean you cannot draw too many conclusions from them and that they all can't be taken at face value.

I seem to remember reading something about the court martial proceedings excluding some people because they were not "on board" with the story that was supposed to be told. Anyone remember where this came from? I don't know where I read this so can't remember how credible the source was.

John Leahy Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Sep 2012 4:17 p.m. PST

I can't remember whether it was Philbrick or Donovan who discussed the trial at some length. He was very illuminating about all the issues with the Army achieving a certain outcome that placed blame on Custer and absolved Reno and Benteen. Libby went on her crusade after the trial to restore George's reputation. She achieved some success during her lifetime.

Later in the 1960's onward till now Custer has been relegated to the incompetent, glory hound status. However, that tide seems to be turning again with recent scholarship. Custer is not blameless. and these authors are not apologists for him. However, Reno and Benteens combined failures at the battle are starting to be seen as vital parts in the chain of events which led to the demise of Custer's Battalion at the LBH.

As an interesting aside. I went back and slowly went through the known timeline of events up to the Cavalry's retreat from Weir Point. It becomes blatantly obvious that Benteen could have reached Custer's 2 Companies on the flank near Calhoun Hill with ease if he hadn't dallied. If anyone is interested I will show the timeline in another post. Or you can look it up at your leisure. I'm just surprised it took some folks so long to realize Benteens complicity.

Edit***** You'll likely see me posting on topics about the LBH Campaign and Pony Wars in general quite a lot. It is a particular passion of mine and has been since I was a child. I read about everything I can get my hands on about it.



Personal logo deephorse Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2012 4:24 p.m. PST

Hi John. I'd be interested to see your timeline. Would this include Benteen taking the pack train with him as ordered, or just his three companies?

John Leahy Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Sep 2012 5:39 p.m. PST

Nope, no pack train with Benteen. Merely a timeline showing what happened when it did and a couple of thoughts about it from me based on known info.



Liliburlero Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2012 6:29 p.m. PST

I can't remember where I read this (25 years ago at least)but an author said that many of the surviving Indians were puzzled as they observed some of Custer's troops shooting themselves during the battle. Was this in the category of "Urban Legend"? I too am enjoying this thread; please keep it coming.

John Leahy Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Sep 2012 7:37 p.m. PST

No, it has been recorded as happening. I'm sure it did. I doubt how widespread it was though. Some of the units were overrun so quickly I am doubtful they would have had a chance to do so. Combine this with the thinking that they still might find a way out and many were possibly killed before the decision to do it themselves could be made.

I am in love with this period. It is totally riveting to me.



Personal logo Ironwolf Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2012 8:01 p.m. PST

ooppss sorry, yes I meant custers brother Tom. lol

George Custer going defensive and waiting for Benteen to bring up more ammunition goes against everything we know about Custer in battle from the civil war onward. Even his own officers that survived with Reno/Benteen thought Custer had used his horses to escape the area and would return any moment from a different direction to reinforce them on Reno Hill. The idea that Custer would dismount his troops and go defensive never entered their minds. Cause they knew Custer and his tactics. So what happened to Custer and his command to change how he fought and go defensive??

On Custer wearing buckskin. Custer was wearing buckskin pants on the day of the battle. many sources have confirmed this.

Custer was an aggresive commander. All that morning he had led from the front. When scouts reported something he went forward to confirm it. From Weir Point Custer could see Reno was in a bad situation. Custer knew he had to do something to provide assistance to Reno. All the survivors from Custer's command left prior to the scout of medicine tail coulee. When last seen Custer was leading his command down towards medicine tail coulee, looking for a place to cross the river into the indian village. So its more than likely Custer was with the scouts when the soldiers were at the medicine tail coulee to see if they could cross into the village. Can we be positive, no we can't but it makes sense when compared to his early actions that morning.

So we do know that Custer knew Reno was in trouble. We know that Custer wanted to cross the river into the indian village. We know he was going to attempt to cross at medicine tail coulee. After all Custer knew fighting the warriors was not going to win the battle. More than likely he was going to do what he had done successfully in the past when outnumbered. Capture the women and children. Burn the camp and kill the horses. Then bring the women & children back to the reservation. The warriors would soon follow just like they had in the past when Custer had done this.

So what happened at the medicine tail coulee to cause Custer to change his plans and retreat from medicine tail coulee and dismount his command. Then go defensive until they were over run??? Cause at this point there were less than a dozen warriors near the crossing there.

In my view the only thing that would have changed this is if Custer was wounded or killed and someone else was in command. Someone who was rattled by losing their commander.

On the archeology of the battlefield. Like many have posted there is no way its going to be 100% accurate. But we now have information gathered after the fire in 1983, the dig in 1984 and then the study done in 2004. I'll take the creditability of scientific research compared to first person accounts as having the best possible results of what happened. Even better when the two provide support to each other.

On the issue of the indians being puzzled by some of Custer's men shooting themselves. I also have read accounts of this. I always chalked this off to it was commonly known among the men if you were captured by the indians you were going to be tortured. So its better to die quick than be tortured. But indian accounts state they also found some soldiers playing dead and when found were killed.

Personal logo Ironwolf Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2012 8:18 p.m. PST

Sorry should have added that I really enjoy reading everyones thoughts and information they have on the battle.
Like many have pointed out there is no specific information or evidence to support my "pet" theory of Custer being wounded at medicine tail coulee. I'm only basing this on Custer's tactics from the civil war all the way to medicine tail coulee. When his command retreats from medicine tail coulee the tactics totally go against everything Custer had done in the past.

But that does not stop me from enjoying everyone elses thoughts, comments and opinions. Thanky.

Korvessa09 Sep 2012 9:14 p.m. PST

Am getting a lot out of this – thanks all.
Re the suicides – I seem to recall reading that sitting bull said there weren't any – sopmething about no cowards
But I am 200 miles from my sources at the moment

I also recall that Custer's wounds were unlikely to have been self-inflicted by a right handed man.

If Custer was seriously wounded – wouldn't it have been a bad message to all if someone had finished him off?

John Leahy Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Sep 2012 10:16 p.m. PST

My reading says that Medicine Tail Coulee was not suitable for Custer's plan because it was in the middle of the camp and not the end. So was not a suitable site to cross. Plus, Indian accounts are pretty clear early on in the battle. They say no soldiers made any serious attempt to cross. I have read that one or two lost control of their horses and rode off into the camp ever to be seen again.

I agree that Custer being seriously wounded early on would explain a lot and put the actions taken in a very different light. However, in this case it is complete speculation and not supported by any known facts. Interesting idea though.



John Leahy Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Sep 2012 11:13 p.m. PST

Timeline at the LBH.

2:32pm Benteen rejoins Custer's Trail and stops to water horses at the Morass for about 20-30 minutes.

2:35pm Custer separates from Reno and heads North to higher ground.

3:00pm Custer sees Reno's advance in the valley and sends Sgt. Kanipe for Benteen.

3:02pm Benteen delays at the morass still watering the horses. He is there when the pack train arrives. Boston Custer passes through Benteen's Command on his way to George Custer.

3:10pm Reno places 3 Companies in line as he approaches the village.

3:15-3:20pm Custer, now at Weir Point sees Reno (who has halted his charge then dismounted) and sends Martini with the Big Village Be Quick order.

3:38-3:40pm Benteen meets Sgt. Kanipe and is updated with the message from Custer. Kanipe had passed Boston Custer a short time earlier.

3:45pm Custer reaches the top of Medicine Tail Coulee.

3:55pm Reno begins retreat from tree line.

4:00pm scouts Curly and Mitch Boyer rejoin Custer and likely tell him what has happened to Reno.

4:00-4:30pm Custer is trying to find a way into the end of the village with different Companies. No serious resistance is yet met.

4:10pm Reno's Command rallies on Reno Hill.

4:20pm Benteen arrives on Reno Hill.

4:50pm Weir departs from Reno Hill towards the sound of the guns.

5:12-5:15pm Benteen departs after Weir.

5:15pm McDougal and the pack Train arrives at Reno Hill.

5:20pm Weir reaches Weir Point and sees destruction of Custer's Command on Custer Hill.

5:42pm Benteen reaches Weir Point and contact with Indians from the Custer action begins.

6:00pm Withdrawal from Weir Point back to Reno Hill.Only one Company covers the retreat in an orderly manner. One casualty is suffered in this action.

Times provided from a variety of sources but is nicely laid out in Panzeri's book on the LBH.

Ok, now for my speculation based on the timeline above.

First, Boston Custer rides through Benteen's command and was able to reach Custer having only a slight lead. Say it's even up to 30 minutes.

Benteen wastes 30-45 minutes watering his commands horses. Even the men in his command comment negatively about it.

Benteen spends almost an hour on Reno Hill. Reno may not have been in complete control or not. Regardless, Benteen is guilted into riding after Weir towards the sound of the fighting and 'he decides to leave Reno'.

The Indians from the Custer battlefield reach Weir Point in 20-25 minutes in large numbers. Estimates are from 700-1000 Indians.

That means that from Reno Hill to Weir Point takes both Weir and Benteen about 30 minutes. So, to reach Custer Hill would take about an hour give or take. Probably less when the Command was deployed since they would have been closer to Yates and Keogh.

Benteen takes almost 2 hours getting to Weir point.

At a minimum he could have made contact with some part of Custer's command had he shown and desire to do so. I doubt he would have saved Custer. But he certainly could have reached Yates or Keogh in time. The Cavalry held off the Indians who had wiped out Custer with a single Company. Is it not probable that 3 Companies and the remains of the other two Companies from Custer couldn't have done the same on their way back to Reno Hill?



Personal logo deephorse Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2012 11:34 a.m. PST

Thanks for your timeline John, and some interesting 'food for thought' in your speculation. A number of questions are already forming, but I need to organise my thoughts properly before posting! Hopefully I'll have time before I depart on holiday later this week.

John Leahy Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Sep 2012 12:09 p.m. PST

Yeah, I find the timeline quite interesting. By the time troops reach Weir Point they can see all the way to Custer Hill. My speculation doesn't even include having Benteen proceed at a quicker pace. Just not wasting the time he did. I think he could have readily reached Custer's Command (or elements of it) between 3:30-4:00pm w/o the packs. I doubt that McDougal could ever have reached Custer with the pack train. I believe Benteen could have reached the Command with some packs carried by his command. However, it would have slowed them down. I cannot calculate by how much.

So, Benteen has five options.

1. Act as he did taking an excessive amount of time and ignoring his order.

2. Ignore the order to bring packs and proceed quickly to Custer's Command.

3. Ignore the order to bring packs and simply not waste the time he did at the watering hole.

4. Try and hurry up the pack train to reach Custer.

5. Bring some packs with his command.

Two of these options result in history happening as it did, IMO. Options 3 and 4 allow for a chance for some of Custer's command to survive. Then they could have fallen back to the pack train and Reno's Command which was forming up on Reno Hill around 5-5:15pm. Option 5 is the one I am unsure about. I think he could still have arrived in time but only if had he moved quickly. It is the biggest 'what if' option.



John Leahy Sponsoring Member of TMP13 Sep 2012 5:02 p.m. PST

Actually, that was options 2&3 allow for possible survivors.



Nasty Canasta Inactive Member07 Dec 2012 2:06 p.m. PST


The Cheyenne accounts fare much better than the Sioux in their veracity, simply becuase the Cheyennes were more familiar with the area (however Two Moons stated that it was OK to lie to a white man, so read him with a word of caution). Secondly, Indian accounts have been in vogue to use now that the rosetta stone of directions, etal, have been made a bit clearer. Many modern authors will shoe-horn these native accounts into their theory to give it more authenticity. It is nowhere near that simple. However, When I spoke with Mike Moore and Mike Donahue about Rich Scott's book regarding the archaelogical work, much of Scott's work was still in the air (Cemetery Ridge, Ford D) but a ton of it dispelled many myths.

Custer was not at Forb B (Medicine Tail Coulee). Curley cites this all three times during his interviews with Walter Camp (see Custer in 76). The Left Wing troops under Yates were present (E & F). Although I agree that Custer was aggressive, past action does not dictate future events.

You mentioned that, "Survivors from Custers command indicated he wanted to cross into the indian village to draw warriors away from Reno. After he saw from Weir Point that Reno was heavily out numbered."

There were no survivors from this command save for Kanipe (already dispatched) and Martini (about to be), Martini nevers mentions this. Custer did send Bouyer to Weir Point and Curley followed. Curly mentions that as soon as Reno's command broke in the valley, Boyer waved his hat to the troops entering Medicine Tail. This "signal" was answered by a similar gesture. This when Martini left "…straight cross-country, not the way we came (see Walter Camp).

It would seem odd to me that after stopping on Sharpshooter Ridge for approximately 10 minutes while watching the development of Reno's attack, he also was observing from this high point his back trail. It is on SS Ridge that Custer first gets a glimpse of approximately half of the camp, and it is not moving, as all previous information had ackowledged. He now knows that there are not satellite villages to the south, and that Benteen's scout in unecessary, therefore he need the ammunition here now.

Godfrey, Martini, and Kanipe all state that 11 of the 13 officers were wearing buckskin jackets (save for Custer and Harrington of C Troop) Thereby stating that Custer was the one at the river who was shot because he wore buckskins would not hold up at trial.

E Troop was at the river under Algernon Smith, and Smith wearing buckskins, may actually have been wounded. He is later found atop Custer Hill near Dr. George Lord's field hospital, and nowhere near his troop. In fact Myles Moylan's map places Smith's horse dead at the head of Deep Ravine (300 yards from Last Stand Hill).

Custer was atop Nye-Cartwright Ridge, when troops E & F were at the river. This position would serve as a visual contact point for Benteen and logically would dictate Custer's presence. The fact that over 800 expended catridge cases of 45.55 government rounds indictates that cavalrymen were firing at warriors who were now inbetween Custer's and Benteens command. Once again, Curley places Custer alive upon Nye-Cartwright and not down at the river. Curley tagged along to Bouyer and where you find Bouyer you'll find Custer.

After the reunification of the two wings upon Calhoun Hill. Custer took E & F with him to the north while L was placed upon Calhoun Hill (another visual contact), with both L & C in reserve. C was quickly brought forward as mounting warrior pressure upon Calhoun's left began striking the led horses. This charge (witnessed by Cheyenne Kate Bighead) failed and now the soldiers were on the run, as L fell under assault from Gall, and I was destroyed on the north side of the ridge by the suicide boys and by Lame White Man' charge. Of the 130 men in those three companies, approximately 20 made it to LSH.

Custer's sojourn to the north, scored him a suitable and relatively undefended ford from which to cross and gather women and children as potential hostages (just like his only other attack at Washita), but his command is too spread out, and he still needs Benteen. A number of Cheyenne's witnessed that Custer's command returned to the main field where he waited for approximately 20 minutes (John Stands In Timber & Young Two Moons, see also Judge Eli Ricker's interviews with the Sioux). Upon the collapse of C, I, and L, Custer moves F troop to the top of Last Stand Hill, while E Troop (Gray Horses) covered the retreat of those twenty survivors. But by this point the bulk of the horses were gone, Reno had halted Benteen, and no assistance was forthcoming.

One can debate until you are blue in the face that Custer was on the defensive, yet many of the Indian accounts cited in the aforementioned books state otherwise.

Custer dies right where they find him. With the bullet in the left temple (bloody), and the left breast (post-mortem i.e. no blood). No one was going to trundle Custer's dead carcass around too long in triple-digit heat.

It was Sergeant James Bustard's horse which was found in the Cheyenne camp opposite and just north of Medicine Tail. Bustard was found with his company (I).

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