Saturday, June 26, 2004

I got my days mixed up...

The Anniversary I mentioned earlier in the week was yesterday.

Yes, the Twentyfifth of June is the anniversary of G.A.C.'s little jaunt up to the Little Bighorn, where he managed to get himself and a good chunk of his command killed.

George Armstrong Custer has a name that can instantly stir up controversy, even among non-historians. It is interesting to me sometimes that an obscure Cavalry officer with political ambitions has a name that is instantly recognizable to everyone, whether they are interested in history or not, over a hundred years after his death. I call it Davey Crockett syndrome. Nobody would've ever heard of him either, if not for the fact he died at the Alamo. These two men have achieved immortality of a sort (that could be a horrible pun) simply because they happened to get killed at the right place and the right time.

I mentioned in an earlier post (many moons ago) that John McQueen (among others) believed that a big part of the Little Bighorn debacle was due to the fact that the Seventh Cavalry were no longer armed with Spencer Carbines. I think there is something to that. I would equate it to going from an M-14 back to an '03 Springfield. You've got more range, but you simply can't pump out as much lead. Custer had commanded Spencer equipped troops for more than ten years. I cannot help but think this made a difference.

Of course there were other factors, such as spiltting his command. I've heard that one argued around many a campfire before. There are good arguments for that on both sides.

Rushing ahead to find the Sioux instead of slowing down to link up with Terry, Gibbon and Crook (yes I know Crook was out of the picture, but Custer didn't).

And then there's the big one (to me anyway). He didn't listen to his scouts. When all of his Indian scouts started telling him "Too many Sioux" slowing down and taking stock of the situation would seem to be the wisest course.

Had a Wesley Merrit, Ranald MacKenzie or Nelson Miles been in command, the entire campaign would've turned out quite differently.

Who are those guys?

Custer's contemporaries, who served in the Civil War and later on the frontier (for over thirty years in Miles and Merrit's case) without presiding over a Mongolian clusterf*** of that scale.

No one (other than historians and people with an interest in history) have of ever heard of them.

The quiet professional who does his job and does it well always ends up a footnote, while the idiots and glory hounds* are remembered.

*(Miles was a bit of a glory hound, but not to the extent that G.A.C. was, he was also a lot smarter)