The Battle Of Little Bighorns History Essay

1418 words (6 pages) Essay

1st Jan 1970 History Reference this


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The battle of little bighorns was a war famously referred to as the clusters last stand. It occurred on June 25 and June 28 in 1876 around the Little Bighorn River found to the eastern side of Montana territory which is now referred to as the Crow Agency Montana. This was an armed ferociously engaged war involving combined endeavors of the Lakota fighters, Northern Cheyenne and the Arapaho people against a United States army fraternity known as the 7th Calvary regiment. Lakota fighters, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho side emerged with a tremendous victory from the war increasing their popularity (NEW PERSPECTIVES ON THE WEST). This victorious side was spear-headed by several major war leaders at that time including crazy horse and general Gall. The battle emerged to be the most dangers and popular confrontation of the great Sioux war or the Black Hills war between 1876 and 1877. The 7th Calvary Regiment led by Major George Armstrong Custer that includes a 700 battalion force suffered excruciating defeat. The death toll on the America’s battalion was 268 officers including scouts, Custer; the leader, his two brothers and a brother in-law. 55 people were also severely injured. The war is said to have been inspired by General Sitting Bull the leader of a U.S army camp through a vision.

After the vision he created a bond between the Lakota and Cheyenne through an alliance referred to as the sun dance in 1875.on June 5th 1876 an American Natives agency staged a religious consecration meeting as a formal way of a spiritual change for all those who were to participate in the war. This religious consecration party was held at the Rosebud River in Montana. To the congregation that had attended, Sitting Bull proclaimed that he had gotten a vision in which soldiers were falling into his camp comparing this action to falling of grasshoppers from the sky as a sign of a victorious conquest in a war. At the same time military officials in the U.S.A armed wing started a campaign to implement removal of the Lakota and Cheyenne to be taken back to their reservations using infantry and the Cavalry regiment groups.

The seven Cavalry groups constituted of different companies each having specified cooperation bodies. The groups were headed by leaders who planned and outlined the actions of all the fighting companies designated under it. Col John Gibbon of the 7th infantry in the 2nd Cavalry was the first to move from Fort Ellis in Western Montana to take charge of the Yellowstone River battalion base. On May 29 Brig .Gen. George crook managing ten companies was assigned to move north from Fort Fetter man in the Wyoming territory and be in charge of the Powder River bases (Dolan 48). Gen Alfred Terry and Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer together with the Gatling gun department moved to the west from Fort Abraham Lincoln in the Dakota area .They were armed with packers, teamsters, 150 wagons and pack mules to strengthen Custer’s companies.

The coordination of the companies and planning of attacks hit raggedness when Crooks troops were delayed in the Battle of the Rosebud. The troops hard under estimated their opponents and as a result they were hit surprisingly by the large number of American Natives. This would mean more time was needed to encounter these Natives and eliminate them. This compelled Crook to back off and regroup his forces. Gibbon and Terry were not aware of crooks predicament s and went on with their plan at the Rosebud River. They allowed Custer’s regiment to move south of River Rosebud while their own troops moved westwards to the Bighorn and the little Bighorn rivers. The Indians encamped in this region, hence all the constituent companies were to converge here and wage an attack to close on the American natives and eliminate them. On June 22nd Terry commanded Custer’s 7th Cavalry consisting of 31 officers and 566 armed men to start pursuit and reconnaissance along Rosebud River and provided with Gatling guns but Custer declined to use them believing they would slow him down (NEW PERSPECTIVES ON THE WEST).

The Custer’s scouts came to a ridge known as the Crow’s Nest that acted as an overview base over the Little Bighorn River On June 24. They saw a large pony herd, a sign of presence of Native Americans. Custer decided to waste no time but wage an attack immediately. He put the companies under the command of Major Marcus Reno, Captain Fredrick Benteen and Captain Thomas McDougal. He had been warned about the large number of the Native Americans but his main concerns was to prevent these Indians from breaking apart and spread away making the attack difficult and unsuccessful.

In this war the Indian warriors outnumbered Custer’s troops by far. This resulted to the defeat of Custer’s troops. The troop had been caught unawares in the open in a base that was less familiar to them. Moreover the military personnel of Custer made assumptions that coasted them a life time leading to their defeat. First they assumed that the Indians were very few yet they were so many. Second, Custer’s troops consider Gibbon’s and Terry’s troops to be on standby to help them but there was a breakdown in communication resulting to Gibbons troops delaying to arrive at the battle ground.

Commanders Reno troops were the first to come to the aid of Custer. They move rapidly hiding in the brambles of trees along the Little Bighorn River. Tepees in this area were inhabited by the Hunk papa Sioux who were allied to the American Natives but Reno was not informed about it (NEW PERSPECTIVES ON THE WEST). He ordered his army to go into skirmish line. This is an attack strategy where by only a quarter of the total army personnel will be firing while the rest hold their horses in support. This plan did not go well with Reno as his firing force had been reduced by 25%. The Indians moved along the exposed left side of Reno’s line. They then mounted an attack of over 500 men bringing down Reno’s troops. This prompted a hasty withdrawal into the timber thickets along the river. The Indians then set fire in the bushes to help drive Reno’s troops out of their positions. Immediately Reno commanded them to withdraw and escape.

Reno’s injured and humiliated detachment camped at Reno’s Hills. They were then joined by Capt. Benteen who concentrated more on reinforcing Reno’s wounded men despite the heavy gunfire that was heard from the north. Benteen had no other option though he was sure that Custer’s troops were in need of his help in the north at the Last stand Hill. Continued Indian attacks at the Weir Ridge made all the seven battalion companies to move in. First was Benteen followed by Reno’s troops and finally the pack train. With courage and calmness Benteen led the attacks to push back the Indians closing up on the soldiers.

None of Custer’s men had survived the attack by the Lakota, Cheyenne and the Sioux troops. Custer was found dead with bullet wounds on the chest and temple. It is believed that Custer was shot and injured by White cow Bull an Indian soldier. This fatal injury was the cause of his death. Though his departure was a big blow to the U.S army, it should be known evidently that Custer’s plan and coordination was very professional. His strategy for Reno’s attack was a coordinated hammer and anvil plan. Reno was to hold the Indians at bay in the southern section, whereas Custer pushed them against Reno’s line (Dolan 35 ). Failure came in when Custer marshaled in without assistance just to realize when it was too late that he had moved far away from Reno’s and Benteen’s aid. Yet he could not back off. The remaining soldiers were then trapped in a box like canyon known as the Deep ravine. They were tortured and killed bringing an end to the battle.

Though the U.S soldiers had advance weapons they were defeated in the war. This can be attributed to poor planning and unconsolidated strategies (Uschan 29). More so they used the spring field cartridge weapons that most were not familiarize to. It’s believed that at a point Custer’s men threw down their weapons in anger panic and frustration. This shows that the soldiers did not have enough time to train with their rifle. These reasons stipulated here are what resulted to America losing in the war

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