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Battle of Little Bighorn - Essay Example

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Summary
Mention General George Custer and it will conjure up images of a buckskin clad Indian fighter, guns blazing, courageously protecting the good people of the Missouri Territory. This picture of the American frontier and its fierce independence has endured for over a century…
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Battle of Little Bighorn
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Battle of Little Bighorn

Download file to see previous pages... His over-zealous approach, arrogant attitude, and egotistical need for glory led an inexperienced and exhausted 7th Cavalry onto a battlefield of unknown terrain to fight an enemy of unknown size. As the sun set, Little Bighorn was littered with the remains of 220 under-equipped and unsupplied soldiers that Custer led to their death. The Battle of Little Bighorn may not have been winnable, but under Custer's command it was a certain death sentence and a complete failure.
The preparation for the Battle of the Little Bighorn began at Fort Abraham Lincoln as early as the Fall of 1875. Here, the Army made two errors that would later prove fatal. The troops provided were inexperienced and had reportedly had been in only one previous Indian skirmish. Though the choice of soldiers may not have been Custer's, their mental and physical preparation was the ultimate responsibility of the field commander. According to a 1909 interview with Second Lieutenant Winfield S. Edgerly, "...[N]o one expected the Indians would make a stand anywhere and fight." (as cited in Hammer, 1990, p. 53). He further illuminates Custer's attitude toward the ensuing battle when he contends, "Custer's idea was that Indians would scatter and run in all directions" (as cited in Hammer, 1990, p. 53). ...
The final estimation places the Indian force at between 5000 and 8000 warriors. Due to Indian agents' desire to inflate reservation populations and maximise government-sponsored goods, the Army initially estimated that there were only about 1000 Indians off the reservation (Fox, 1993, p. 233). Yet, once again, it was Custer who failed to adjust and conceive the most rudimentary battlefield planning. Though the Army had miscalculated the Indian force, Custer was warned of the impending size of the opposition as estimates began to rise when Custer's scouts reported a larger force as early as June 22 (Fox, 1993, p. 233).
The reconnaissance issue also includes a failure to adequately scout the terrain on which the regiment was planning on waging their attack. Three hours before the battle, Benteen reported that there were "hills on all sides" (as cited in Sklenar, 2000, p. 115). Yet, Custer pressed on not only into unfavourable, but also unknown terrain. The area where Custer died provided a poor defensive position and gave the adversary a distinct advantage (Fox, 1993, p. 231). The hills where Custer's men were situated were sloping and cut with deep ravines, forcing the men to dismount and take up defensive positions (Bereit, 2000). The overwhelming strength of the Indians allowed them to repeatedly stampede Custer's position.
When Custer reached within 15 miles of the Little Bighorn, Mitch Bouyer, the mixed-blood scout, reported to Custer that the force was the largest he had ever seen assembled (Fox, 1993, p. 233). Bloody Knife, an Ankara scout, agreed. However, Custer berated Bouyer for his cowardice and ignored his scouts' intelligence. At this ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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