The “battle of little big horn” that occurred in June 25, 1876 is viewed by many as the greatest victorious war wedged by the native inhabitants of America against the U.S military. There was much disunity and upheavals among the Native American Indians prior to the war. The northern American Indian community (Dakota Indians) had developed a greedy search of land wild game hunting, making them to drive away the surrounding closely related inhabitants who occupied the land to the western country of the Mississippi river. The war like groups expanded its territory taking the land of their own tribal people, an act that led them to be possession of vast lands in the northwestern where they were known as Sioux. It’s said that before the outbreak of the Battle of Little Big Horn, the Sioux were in possession of the black hills after plundering the Pawnees their precious prairies, Cheyennes and the Arrapahoes (Kershaw, 2005).
The Cause of the War
The discovery of the gold in the black hill which was occupied by the American Indians is perhaps assumed as the main cause of the upheaval on June 25, 1875. The whites envy over the control of the trade of gold in the region led to the relentless execution of attacks on the human inhabitants of the region. These previous fierce attacks triggered unrest within the regions of the black hills particularly in the Montana. Before the attacks of that day, numerous American Indians who were scattered in different parts of the country began to gather in the Montana which was the city of the great American Indians’ warrior, the Sitting bull (Sklenar, 2000). The congregation of the outraged American Indians in the City of the Montana was necessary for them in preparation of the attacks against the selfish whites’ settlers. It can therefore be argued that one of the reasons for the American Indians to merge at the Montana was to devise the strategy to combat the white land grabbers and halt their propensity of dominating them. The organization of the American Indians into well coordinated separate groups under three great commanders helped them to protect their domain and diminish the dominance of the whites in two consecutive white attacks. The American Indians’ victory of the 1875 over the famous US Cavalry was an indication of the Sitting bull prowess in war organization.
Plans and operations
During the beginning of the June, there was clear indication that the sitting bull Military group was expanding day after day. The US military army on the Big Horn slopes was apprehended with fears as the planned the attack of the Sioux warriors. General Sheridan who was in charges of the entire planning and operations strategies found out that there was massive reuniting of the Indians from the reservations of Black Hills with those in the Valley in the Territory of the Sitting Bull. In his own conception of the increasing numbers of the rivalry group, there fifth Cavalry was urgently ordered to intercept and abolish such immigration of the Indians from the Black Hills. This Fifth Cavalry was a reinforcement of the seventh cavalry. The reinforcement of this group was less effective as there was a massive number of Indians in between the rig leaders of the US army groups. The interception of the Indians crowd rendered communication between the various US militia groups impossible. The commanders of the groups could not coordinate with each other, and therefore, they could exchange information to organization the group in a better way of combating the Indians from both sides (Sklenar, 2000).
While the US army planned to harass the Sioux warrior, they trained under different parts under different commanders including the General Crook, General Terry among others. It was common that in order to examine the level of war prowess that the various groups under the different commanders, they had to wage war over the Sioux’s warriors. in one way, this gave the Sioux warrior a better opportunity to learn of the various wars tactics from the different groups while at the same they faced a different challenge of combating each of the US militia group. The testing of the militia group’s strength with the Sioux enabled them to gain experience in the entire range of strategies that they could apply. The harassment skirmishes which were on the banks of river Rosebud involving the General Crook explicitly showed that Sioux was winning over the fifty US Cavalry. This made General Crook to decide repeal his army as show of defeat but his thought was to gain reinforcement for support to avoid a blow and crashing by the Sioux (Jeffry, 1996).
The scouts of the general Terry manned the upper parts of the battlefield instead of reinforcing the Crook’s group. Another group moved to the Wolf Mountains in strategy that showed that intention of surrounding the Sitting Bull territory and its inhabitants. Meanwhile, there was a kind of collaboration and undoubtedly, the march to the little big horn was an anticipation of great victory over the Sioux warriors. Major Reno and General Terry had high coordination of the events and when Major Reno was made a ware of the massive crossing of their rival of the River Rosebud, he wisely decide to take new direction and inform General Terry who was overall commander of the seventh cavalry.
The US cavalry army intended to drive away Indian warriors and their people back to the black hills reservation, however their alignment to attempt to block them from occupying their own lands had several points of weakness. The US cavalry army arranged itself into three lines. This trio arrangement was aimed at attacking the rival Indians in a coordinated manner. The idea corresponding with the different groups was thus important in approaching the opponents. One of the rig leaders of the three US militia groups was Lieutenant George Custer who was the leader of the seventh Cavalry. Sources showed that George had earlier on failed in his duties as commander. The failure of the US Cavalry Army in the battle on June 25, 1875 began with the appointed of the Colonel George who had bad reputation by failing to manage the control of the smallest group that can be formed of persons; that is, he could not handle a case of fighting two cadets immediately after his graduation (Jeffry, 1996)..
The US army had to travel several miles to attack the famous Sioux groups in their own village in the Montana. Despite the previous mistakes that the made lieutenant George Custer famous, after his call back to aid in the driving out of the Indians to their own reservations, he was given the leading line of the various lines which were organized to increase the whites lands. He therefore led the group in his own mediocre war intelligence but bravely with great expectation of winning the war. While there was no obstacle that seemed to hinder him from engaging into the battle with the Indians, he was obsessed of glory and no thoughts of being vanquished that ringed in his mind. However, the anticipated results of honor and glory turn out to be defamation at the end of the battle. Custer and his seventh cavalry group had traveled for more than hundred miles from the barracks which had only taken them shortest period that had ever been used before. It’s said that by the time they had cover one hundred and five miles, they were just at about the river banks of the Rosebud which was fifteen miles nearer to the Sioux villages. At this moment they were unaware of dangers of the opponents when they encountered a small number of about forty Sioux warriors. The Lieutenant Custer out of impatience, horror and fear that the opponents might escape immediately launched the war. However, this was not in accordance to the plans and operations of the war.
Though it was unexpected incident of the encounter, a number of war flaws emerged from this particular criss-cross. First and foremost, the military men to combat the Sioux warriors successfully needed some rest. They were already exhausted to wage war immediately over the sitting Bull men. In addition, their horses were also weary due to the long distance they walked over besides the riders being filthy and stranger in the region. Despite such high number of impediments, the US military seemed more powerful as compared to Sioux warrior. Though the cavalrymen had boats to cross the river, the delayed and the experienced Sitting bull’s warrior made their way ahead of them.
The little big horn was a village of its own uniqueness. It was a site with numerous geographical feature including bluffs, valleys, cliffs and other features that were not easily noticeable. While Custer was on top of one of the cliff, he could assume that he had the full view or sight of the village. He saw the canyons and cliffs to the south, the grassy prairies to the north as well as the steep bluffs that were found in the prairies covered by the vast lands of cottonwoods and other various kinds of trees. The Custer’s first sight of the village gave him the impression having scanned the entire village, and to his eagerness, he thought of it as the greatest opportunity plunder the little big horn continent, but he had only spied less than a third of the village’s homeland. The brave warrior had known of the plans of attacks from their point of vigilance, hence, they prepared to salvage their families from the forthcoming carnage. However, Custer was blinded of glory and honor such that he misinterpreted the event as a panicking of the warrior rather than war training and preparatory. Without knowing the tricks, Custer and his followers fiercely attacked the Sioux but their efforts were all in vain as they could not hit the targets from the hiding place.
Generally, the reactions of Lieutenant Custer indicated little or total lack on commanding force on the US army. While examining the planning of the war, it was clearly scheduled that the war to be waged and launched a day later. However, the war that broke out on June 25 was unplanned for this particular time. Secondly, the launched took place in the absence of the chief commandeered of the seventh Cavalry group, General Terry. This posits that the organization of the entire group was poor. It may suggest that the US army had no commanders. Launching a war is not an event that is given to any officer, but it’s well known that this is a special duty for the general commanders to execute the launching of war. When Lieutenant Custer took this charge and ordered the junior officers to combat the Sioux at the unexpected encountered at the Rosebud River, this vividly portrays a great weakness of the authority bestowed on the military commanders. The declaration of the attack of the seventh cavalry by Custer was given when the two rivals were fifteen miles apart from each other. However, the Sitting bull who was the commander would wait patiently until the rivals were as close as six miles when he ordered his group to attacks (Miller, 1995).
While the general Terry commander was aware of the behavior of Custer, the order which he furnished to him expressed his inner fears of hurting Custer’s attitude and spirit. While he was warning him of keeping vigilance of the warriors from escaping southeastward in the bluffs of the big horn mountains, Terry failed to used distinct commands or directive measure on Custer of what he ought to do or not to do. Bearing in mind that he just mentioned that the 26 days of June, he would arrive at the valley did not impede Custer from east from making early arrival in the scene. Thus, the early arrival of Custer in the battlefield resulted from General Terry’s failure to instruct his junior officers on what they must have done or not. Otherwise, the early arrival in the nearby battlefield would have been an advantage for resting before the launching of the war. This could have been an opportunity to make thorough investigation of the regions for strategic position and targeting of the key areas to attack in the Sioux territory
There was total confusion on the organization of the seventh Cavalry. One mainly feature is that raised such problem was misrecognition of the authorities driven by self-interest and recognition. Custer ignored orders of waiting for the main commander general Terry to arrive, he thus assaulted the combats even without knowing that they were approaching in numerous numbers. After noticing that the sheer number of the combats was large enough than he expected, Custer was quick to organize three minor troops. His haste command was aimed at surrounding the Sitting Bull’s warrior and then thwarting their efforts of escaping from the battlefield (Gray, 1998).
The victory of the Indians in the battle of little big horn was not only as result of the new tactics which the warriors had receiver from the Crazy Horse, but they also used better weapons to gun down the proud US cavalry rivals. Initially, almost fifty percent of the Indian warriors were armed with crude and primary weapons including bows and arrows, while it’s estimated that twenty five percent carried assorted old muzzleloaders. The rest of the Indian militia was bearing a bit advanced arms. According to Reno, one of the rig leader officers of the US cavalry army, the Indians equipped themselves with modern repeaters which he referred to them as the Winchesters rifles.
Some of the US Cavalry army officers believe that the Indians subdued them due to the use of the modern Winchester rifles. The first innovation of the repeater model was by Henry Tyler, a superintendent of an army company at the Olive Winchester. The sitting Bull’s warriors armed themselves with repeater that were modifications of either 1866 Winchester model or the Henry’s model. These kind of rifles used similar rimfire cartridges of 44-caliber but used different bullet sizes. Whereas the Winchester’s model used 200-grain bullets, the Henry’s model used 216-grain bullets that could be fired at very high velocity. The carbine capacities were quite different of 17 and 13 cartridges in Winchester and Henry’s model respectively (Kershaw, 2005).
On the other hand, the US army was armed with Springfield. Similar to Indians’ various muzzleloaders, sharps, Henry and Winchester weaponry models, the Springfield was preferred for its high accuracy in short shooting of about one hundred yards. However, it had a great disadvantage of being a single shot weapon model, while at the same time, accuracy decreased at a lower rate with increasing distance. For instance, at approximately 300 yards, accuracy dropped by 25 percent for a Springfield while it decreased by about 60 percent in Winchester repeaters. However, some of the powerful Springfield model could achieve high accuracy of hundred percent in the same way like the sharps of 45-75 rifle. The US Army could perform better on targeting the rival at higher distance of 600 yards and above when using their Springfield as the Winchester and the Henry weapons were no more effective at this point, which mean in the overall evaluations, the US cavalry army was more advantaged than Sitting Bull’s men. The US army had the opportunity of making a selection of the weapons to use out of the wide range weapons that were at there disposal. The army officers decided to use the Springfield model not only due to its advantage on accuracy at far and short distances, but it had also other merits which included light weight of seven pounds. The generally evaluation showed that it was most suited for use in the rugged battlefield. In addition, it was the most durable weaponry machine that could perform better than Winchester and Henry models in the dusty battlefield environment. The light weight of machine would allow them cavalrymen to advance and make attacks quickly against their combats (Gray, 1998).
Theme: preparing for success in war
In order to succeed in a war, a number of factors must be considered. It involves thorough preparations which including training the officer participants in the wars as well as evaluating the strengths and the weakness of the various parties involved. This ranges from the selection of the key leaders. The choice of weaponry equipment and the attire to put on are as vital as prior surveys/ spying of the activities and movement of the combats before the release of the troops to the battle to aid in avoiding unexpected attacks.
In any given war attack, the commanders form the core factor that can mitigate the chance of success of the competing rivals. The first frontal attack that Custer led was due to the poor commands of General Terry who was expected to issue them to him without fear and favor. He acted out to salvage his people from attacks of the unexpected militias. The events that took place at the unexpected encountered of the cavalry army and the Sioux shows that Custer was ready for anything and had the skill of waging war as long as the opportunity were there. This is worst tactic in fighting enemies because it void of the core principles of war, which is safety and success. Before Custer’s engaging into the hostile warring with the cavalry, he could have considered safety of his army by sending out spies before their arrivals. Relying on individual’s Initiative, acting promptly and maintaining high mobility styles as well as being defensive while avoiding own offensive mistakes are strategies that could boost the chance of subduing the enemies, which was the case that Sitting Bull and his assistant Crazy horse applied to manage the battle. Whenever Custer commanded his trooped, he did it with arrogantly and offensively affected the overall coordination and reinforcement supporter of the US cavalry army.
The Sioux warrior understood that unity among them and obedience to their commanders was the sole source of success. They knew that despite the numerous challenges of cruder weapons than those of their rivals, warrior’s discipline was most important, and through this, they severally tricked the cavalrymen. They also were aware that hundred warrior well disciplined and organized could wipe out well armed three hundred disorganized and crooked soldiers. They not depended on this but they purposeful firing accuracy and deliberate tactics were heavily employed.
On the hand, it was founds that the total number of cavalrymen exceeded that of the Sioux warrior. This means the flat suitable grounds on which the warrior used as their open battlefield to attack their rival in the cliffs or rugged terrain strengthened their attacks, but the broken and uneven surface hindered the cavalry efforts of attack. This shows that the commanders had not chosen better fighting ground for the cavalry that why they were being defeated.