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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  CAS TOPICS  |  The Powder Room - CAS reloading (Moderator: Professor Marvel)  |  Topic: what if Custer's 7th had been armed with Spencers/Winchesters and Schofields 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: what if Custer's 7th had been armed with Spencers/Winchesters and Schofields  (Read 19760 times)
Doug.38PR
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« on: July 30, 2014, 01:18:23 am »


Would that have really made a difference as is so often claimed?

The Trapdoor .45-70's advantage of shooting beyond the range of the Indian's bow and arrow and lever action rifles.

But then we are still talking about 4000 Souix and Cheyenne braves against 200 something odd American troopers.
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Crossdrawnj
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« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2014, 09:10:14 am »

They still (probably) have had their butts kicked, but not as bad. I think the issue was is they 7th were out maneuvered and out numbered by the Sioux and Cheyenne.
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« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2014, 12:38:43 pm »

Go to the 'Spencer Shooting Society' forum, and look this one up.

Topic: Thoughts on Spencers back in 1868...56-50 vs 50-70  (Read 5268 times)

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« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2014, 04:19:53 pm »

Close air support might have saved Custer's backside.
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« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2014, 06:07:19 pm »

If you read the threads in SSS, you'll find the Army's rationale for using a hard-hitting single-shot.

That said, nothing can beat thorough training, and in order to do that, you have to be able to back it up with funding for ammunition, amongst other things - something that the frontier Army just didn't have.

Custer's Seventh - like every other Frontier Army outfit - was filled with newly-arrived immigrants and men trying to get to the gold fields while eating Army rations.

They weren't elite, well-trained, highly-motivated, agile, mobile, and hostile troopers by any stretch of the imagination.

Custer was conventional Cavalry combat-experienced, and an experienced leader of men - ask the Michigan Wolverines - but he was also hungry for glory and a chance to redeem himself - and he - like everyone else - seriously underestimated his foe's capabilities.

Never before - and never since - would American troops encounter the number of Indians in one place and cocked, locked and ready to rock - and they reminded the Army that there were still lessons to be learned on the modern battlefield - lessons we would take to heart.

It would take Crook's implacable Infantry to bring the Indian Wars to a close - but there was no way John Ford could add 'romance' to hard-campaigning dogfaces who pursued in winter, so that part of the truth is always left to the dust of history.

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« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2014, 07:04:23 pm »

Don't loose sight of Crooks buttkickin a few days earlier on the Rosebud, by the same bunch that took Custer out. Problem with that one is while it was nearly as big of a castastrophy as the mess on the the Greasy Grass, Crook didn't leave behind a grieving widow.
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« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2014, 07:18:06 pm »

Crook had less than a dozen casualties, fought a tactical draw, and withdrew to resupply.  It was certainly not a triumph, nor was it a catastrophe. 

As to the Spencers, the Army wanted a weapon that would reliably penetrate the frontal muscle mass of a Horse.  You kill the horse, you stop a mounted enemy.  Numbers, tactics, lack of training, lack of experience,  and failure to appreciate the tactical capabilities of the enemy,(as opposed to the tactical history) doomed half of the 7th.  The other half, with the same weapons, dug in on high ground and survived.
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Sagebrush Burns
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« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2014, 08:59:55 pm »

In the Civil War Custer proved himself as a capable cavalry commander.  At the Little Big Horn he picked the wrong time to have a bad day.
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« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2014, 04:20:02 pm »

Crook had less than a dozen casualties, fought a tactical draw, and withdrew to resupply.  It was certainly not a triumph, nor was it a catastrophe.  (snip)

I can't find my references for the number of casualties suffered by Crook's command right now, but IIRC it was more than a dozen. Capt. Guy V. Henry was shot in the face, ultimately surviving with the loss of sight in one eye. Trumpeter Snow was shot through both wrists, probably maimed for life (no record of his subsequent recovery), to name just two. Meinhold's Co. B, 3rd Cav was "badly cut up". Regardless, Crook's command reportedly expended over 50,000 rounds of ammunition! In the sense that Crook's immediate command was nowhere near whiped out, it wasn't a catastrophe. Crook claimed he won the battle since he "held the field" (the Indians, having fought enough, figured it was time for a break and...broke off). But in the strategic sense, the Battle of the Rosebud was an out-and-out disaster.  Why? Because the original concept of the Big Horn & Yellowstone Expedition of 1876 was for Terry & Gibbon to act as the anvil, while Crook dropped the hammer on the hostiles. Had Crook not "dropped back to resuplly" (he messaged for Wesley Merritt and the 5th Cav, with Buffalo Bill as chief scout, to come up, and then waited around fisheing and hunting at Big and Little Goose Creek...where Sheridan, WY, is today). That delay and the lack of communications effectively resulted in the LBH debacle! In point of fact, what the BH&Y Expedition needed to success was camm between Terry/Gibbon/Custer and Crook, plus tacair cover and arty support. (Ironically, Custer was the first airborne observer during the CW!)  But then there's no use wishing for technology that's 80 years in the future.
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« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2014, 05:30:34 pm »

Went and backchecked, approx. 20 killed, 40 wounded.  Not a catastrophe, but a tactical standoff resulting in a local strategic victory when combined with Greasy Grass. (LBH) 

The whole thing was a tactical planning debacle, all based on the Sioux and Cheyenne dispersing on contact.  When they concentrated instead, the whole thing had to, and did, fall apart. 
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« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2014, 11:03:12 pm »

If Custer would have slowed down a bit and kept his ego in check,  he would have done better to take the three Gatling Guns that were offered to him along with the rest of the troops.  In the end, it may have not changed the outcome, but it would have been a more even match. JMHO.
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« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2014, 06:19:22 pm »

Glad this thread got moved, maybe my post wont get deleted here
seems that my dislike of custer is not tolorated in the historical society section Tongue
Being part Lacota Sioux I hate custer with a passion and glad  my ancestors wiped his murderous rear end off the planet!
There are several other murderous blue bellies that I can rant about but this is a custer thread.
personally i dont think GAC stood much of a chance from any combat stand point because of the fact he was grossly out  manned
 I think he knew exactly what he was walking his men into, I also believe his big ego is what got him and his men killed not bad inteligence/ recon or the lack of inadequate weaponry theory.
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« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2014, 07:16:21 pm »

I can certainly understand your feels about Custer. Yes, he had a huge ego, was pretty well fearless, which translated into a disregard for his men. A big ego has and can affect judgement and analysis of intel, lulling you into a false sense of security, which can lead to tactical mistakes. I recall another military genius, who let his ego to discount reports of the enemy's backers coming at his troops in overwhelming numbers. Were it not for close air support, covering the retreat of that general's troops, as well as the bravery and professionalism of these troops, the disaster would have made Custer a mere footnote in history.  And the latterday general was a military genius and planned and ordered a number of campaigns.  Any idea to whom I refer? An old soldier whose ego was so great, he ignored the order of his commander, and ultimately just...faded away! Roll Eyes
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« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2014, 07:38:38 pm »

I can certainly understand your feels about Custer. Yes, he had a huge ego, was pretty well fearless, which translated into a disregard for his men. A big ego has and can affect judgement and analysis of intel, lulling you into a false sense of security, which can lead to tactical mistakes. I recall another military genius, who let his ego to discount reports of the enemy's backers coming at his troops in overwhelming numbers. Were it not for close air support, covering the retreat of that general's troops, as well as the bravery and professionalism of these troops, the disaster would have made Custer a mere footnote in history.  And the latterday general was a military genius and planned and ordered a number of campaigns.  Any idea to whom I refer? An old soldier whose ego was so great, he ignored the order of his commander, and ultimately just...faded away! Roll Eyes
I would have to guess either Patton or MacArthur
Heres some pretty good reading concerning the treatment of the North American nativves by the government who brought us the US Constitution Roll Eyes
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« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2014, 08:02:49 pm »

I just read this string and agree pretty well with all the comments including st8lineleathersmith.....I understand completely friend your hatred......

I realized from reading y'alls comments however, the knotheads who run the US government haven't changed their attitudes too much since then.

I believe they still think intimidation with arms will quell the crowds.

The Army back then expected the Indian nations gathered together to bolt and run when up against the full firepower and might of the US Army and this didn't happen......the only person who in my estimation who got his victory fairly was Buffalo Bill in his duel with Yellow Hand, two months after Custer and his troops were killed. Each on horseback and armed with repeater rifles.

Today the US gov. still underestimates folks thinking they will run when confronted with armed gov. agents....jack boots, etc.......example: Bundy Ranch and currently Ferguson MO.

Black uniforms make people mad, not afraid (unless they are alone) Military weapons don't scare anyone (again unless they are alone) Custor found this out, Crook found this out, BLM found this out as did the local over armed police in MO.

This'll probably get deleted but I needed to vent..............

Griswold



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« Reply #15 on: August 17, 2014, 09:20:40 pm »

I can certainly understand your feels about Custer. Yes, he had a huge ego, was pretty well fearless, which translated into a disregard for his men. A big ego has and can affect judgement and analysis of intel, lulling you into a false sense of security, which can lead to tactical mistakes. I recall another military genius, who let his ego to discount reports of the enemy's backers coming at his troops in overwhelming numbers. Were it not for close air support, covering the retreat of that general's troops, as well as the bravery and professionalism of these troops, the disaster would have made Custer a mere footnote in history.  And the latterday general was a military genius and planned and ordered a number of campaigns.  Any idea to whom I refer? An old soldier whose ego was so great, he ignored the order of his commander, and ultimately just...faded away! Roll Eyes

Douglas McArthur ignored intelligence reports and got the 8th Army (in particular the 2nd Infantry division) chewed up along the Chongchon river.  Only the fact that their commander essentially dis-obeyed orders and concentrated his command (as well as the fighting quality of the troops) allowed the Marines to excape relatively intact from the Chosin reservoir.  Korea:  November/December 1950.
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« Reply #16 on: October 25, 2014, 05:48:12 pm »

Two or three A-10 Warthogs loitering overhead might have made the fight unnecessary.  But if they had to be called in for support after the fight started Custer still gets a hair cut.  Too many indians, too close and no effective cover.
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« Reply #17 on: November 10, 2014, 07:52:54 pm »

Obviously some serious historians have weighed in already. James Donovan's "A Terrible Glory, Custer and the Little Big Horn the Last Great Battle of the American West" is a very comprehensive read with over 90 pages of endnotes, some a paragraph or more in length. It delves into Custer the man and a lot of inferences as to what shaped his decision making at the Little Big Horn based on previous experience against the plains Indians. It brings the reader along so by the time the LBH battle is chronicled, the reader is not surprised by Custer’s decisions.   

One thing I did not know was the abysmal state of combat readiness of the 7th immediately prior to the campaign. Custer spent about two months or more politicking back east and left the train up for the campaign in Reno's hands. Reno failed miserably in that regard. A simple example, logistics; the pack mules that among other things were carrying the Gatling guns and upwards of 25,000 rounds of assorted ammunition were not trained to carry the loads and proved to be nearly unmanageable once on the trail. This was above and beyond the questionable quality of the individual troopers.

The 73 Winchester was chambered in .44-40 – considered formidable at the time but would it have been powerful enough to knock down a horse if not through the heart or lungs (ref to a prior post about the Army’s rationale in part for the big .45-70 cartridges)?

Nice to muse about the difference true repeating rifles might have made. My take after reading Terrible Glory twice was that the sheer size of the force that hit Custer and the 200 plus under his direct command on the ridge was simply too much. 

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« Reply #18 on: November 11, 2014, 12:05:47 pm »



The 73 Winchester was chambered in .44-40 – considered formidable at the time but would it have been powerful enough to knock down a horse if not through the heart or lungs (ref to a prior post about the Army’s rationale in part for the big .45-70 cartridges)?

Nice to muse about the difference true repeating rifles might have made. My take after reading Terrible Glory twice was that the sheer size of the force that hit Custer and the 200 plus under his direct command on the ridge was simply too much. 


Just my own thoughts about the 1873 Winchester
from my understanding this was what many of the native tribes who did actually have a fire arm were equipped with and not really a good accurate  number of how many is known to have been used in the battle.
there is the advantage of the .44-40 having a higher cartridge capacity and a shorter stroke of the action than the .45-70 govt therefore the tribal warriors could get off more well placed shots before needing to reload and due to the difference in cartridge size more .44-40 cartridges could be carried easier.

I understand the tactical standpoint of knocking down the horse from the government troops but I seriously doubt many of the Native Americans were aiming at the horses seeing the horses were held in much higher esteem than the blue coats riding them
however I think for the most Custer troops perished from arrow's Spears, knives and war clubs not 1873 Winchesters
.
 just my thoughts


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« Reply #19 on: February 25, 2015, 06:03:18 pm »

Catching up on an old thread, but I believe the key the battle from G. Custer was a lack of logistical support.
There was a reason he sent the urgent request to "Bring Packs"...even mentioned it twice in his dispatch.

A faster-firing gun would have used the ammunition supply faster, but due to the lighter weight of ammunition for the repeaters more cartridges could have been brought to the fight by each soldier....Assuming the command would issue a higher number of rounds per man.

Interesting (to me) these same discussions take place today regarding current military weaponry.

Slim
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« Reply #20 on: February 25, 2015, 06:35:11 pm »

If Custer had only been armed with repeaters........   

Since Custer separated from his pack train, his unit would have faced the same overwhelming force with possibly twice the rifle ammo they had for their trapdoors.   It's not really clear what amount of ammo they would have been carrying for Winchesters or Spencers, but they weren't exactly overloaded with 45LC.   It's really not clear what the Army would have decided was an appropriate load for the trooper's horse.   And the ammo in the pack train Custer chose to leave behind, out of reach, didn't play a part at the time no matter what caliber.

Repeaters and Schofields would have probably changed the outcome.   There probably would have been a higher loss on the Indian's side.   Since they fairly quickly over ran Custer's 1/3 of his forces, the loss probably would not have been much higher on the Indian's side, but the same 100% of Custer's party.     
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« Reply #21 on: June 03, 2015, 10:15:41 pm »

Less than 200 facing thousand would be mentally debilitating beyond our grasp. What I had in my hand would not help
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« Reply #22 on: June 05, 2015, 11:06:29 am »

As long as we are playing "what-if-s" I wonder if anyone has thoughts on the recent mobility
tactics of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Call me "crazy" but the first thing I thought of were the Commanche
tactics across Texas and the Moro fantics in the Phillipines. Patton, Guderian and Rommel all proved
the effectiveness of mobile warfare. I also think that Crook and MacKenzie proved the worth of doggedly
following the enemy into his strongholds.

If you're wondering where this is all coming from, I was one of those folks listening to the news the other day
when the Secy of Defense stated that Iraqi-s didn't have the will to fight and like somebody mentioned before
the 7th Cav folks were not battle-hardened ACW vets. I'm wondering if there are things our modern military
can apply from the Indian Wars.  Thoughts?

Best Wishes,

Bruce
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« Reply #23 on: July 17, 2015, 11:48:16 pm »

If Custer had only been armed with repeaters........   

Since Custer separated from his pack train, his unit would have faced the same overwhelming force with possibly twice the rifle ammo they had for their trapdoors.   It's not really clear what amount of ammo they would have been carrying for Winchesters or Spencers, but they weren't exactly overloaded with 45LC.   It's really not clear what the Army would have decided was an appropriate load for the trooper's horse.   And the ammo in the pack train Custer chose to leave behind, out of reach, didn't play a part at the time no matter what caliber.

Repeaters and Schofields would have probably changed the outcome.   There probably would have been a higher loss on the Indian's side.   Since they fairly quickly over ran Custer's 1/3 of his forces, the loss probably would not have been much higher on the Indian's side, but the same 100% of Custer's party.     
Several years ago I read an article about research at the Little Big Horn. The scientists were trying to determine just what weapons were used by the Indians and the 7th Cav during that battle in June of 1876. Using metal detection equipment it took several months of surveys to complete their effort.
The majority of shell casings were .44 Henry with some .44 WCF in the perimeter outside where the troopers finally stood their ground .......majority quantities found of the US 7th Cav positions were .45-70 with some 44 WCF, probably from the Pawnee scouts. Interestingly enough, no .45 Colt or Schofield shell casing were discovered.....which means either the troops never got to shoot their pistols or never had the opportunity to reload.
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« Reply #24 on: July 20, 2015, 02:24:08 pm »

Well, Reno used his head, got into good ground, and wasn't wiped out and he had the same firearms.  I think Custer underestimated his enemy. Got strung out and chopped to bits.  Probably would have been the same with the better firepower.
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