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Thread: Gatling guns at Little Big Horn - could Custer have won?

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    Gatling guns at Little Big Horn - could Custer have won?

    Could Custer have won at Little Big Horn if he brought along the 2 Gatling guns he was offered?

    I cant say I have a good idea as it still would have been appx. 5,000 to 300ish with Custer in addition to about 300 more with Reno and Benteen, not good odds and plus the area is very hilly so it would have been hard to deploy the Gatlings in a good spot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisF202
    Could Custer have won at Little Big Horn if he brought along the 2 Gatling guns he was offered?

    I cant say I have a good idea as it still would have been appx. 5,000 to 300ish with Custer in addition to about 300 more with Reno and Benteen, not good odds and plus the area is very hilly so it would have been hard to deploy the Gatlings in a good spot.
    Hilly terrain is perfect for defending a position, especially with machineguns. I don't know that the gats woulda made enough of a diff to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, but they sure as hell would've helped. Custer also left his cannons behind too IIRC, and they would've REALLY helped.

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    They were overrun by a vastly superior force in a matter of minutes. The sheer speed meant they were unable to set up a decent defensive position, so probably not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by parihaka
    They were overrun by a vastly superior force in a matter of minutes. The sheer speed meant they were unable to set up a decent defensive position, so probably not.
    What you describe is a failure in scouting, and Custer(and unfortunately his men) paid the resultant price, as always.

    Dearly.

    In manuever(and generally all) warfare, losing the scouting battle almost always ensures you'll lose the mainforce action to come. Winning it invariably means the exact opposite.

    Doesn't matter if it's on land, at sea, under the sea, or in the air. Someday it will apply to space as well.

    The catch phrase for that most basic truism of warfare nowadays is "First look, first shoot, first kill".

    Custer got first looked, first shot, and first killed.

    Had he had a more effective scouting plan, you're damned tootin' those Gats would've helped, and his big guns too.

    What custer did was repeated by MacArther about 80 years later in Koldrea.
    Both Custer and MacArthur completely mistook the nature and intentions of the enemy. Same thing happened to one Admiral Yamamoto at the Battle of Midway.

    Severely misreading your enemy is usually quite fatal too. It certainly was in those three instances.
    Last edited by Bill; 27 Apr 06, at 05:11.

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    Quote Originally Posted by M21Sniper
    What you describe is a failure in scouting, and Custer(and unfortunately his men) paid the resultant price, as always.

    Dearly.

    In manuever(and generally all) warfare, losing the scouting battle almost always ensures you'll lose the mainforce action to come. Winning it invariably means the exact opposite.

    Doesn't matter if it's on land, at sea, under the sea, or in the air. Someday it will apply to space as well.

    The catch phrase for that most basic truism of warfare nowadays is "First look, first shoot, first kill".

    Custer got first looked, first shot, and first killed.

    Had he had a more effective scouting plan, you're damned tootin' those Gats would've helped, and his big guns too.

    What custer did was repeated by MacArther about 80 years later in Koldrea.
    Both Custer and MacArthur completely mistook the nature and intentions of the enemy. Same thing happened to one Admiral Yamamoto at the Battle of Midway.

    Severely misreading your enemy is usually quite fatal too. It certainly was in those three instances.
    Agreed. What Custer expected was a village with most of the menfolk gone. What he got was the entire Sioux Nation with a good helping of Cheyenne to boot. Didn't know the territory he was going into, didn't know the forces opposing him, and shooting his own horses didn't help either

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    I also dont think he knew exactly what he was up against. He should have waited for the infantry and artillery under Gibbons but by then the Indians would have been long gone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisF202
    I also dont think he knew exactly what he was up against. He should have waited for the infantry and artillery under Gibbons but by then the Indians would have been long gone.
    That's where you and he are both wrong.

    Sitting Bull wanted a decisive battle. Just like Nimitz at midway. Like Yamamoto at Midway and MacArthur as he neared the Yaluu, Custer thought he was facing a reluctant and dispersed enemy on the run.

    All three were terribly wrong.

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    Bill,

    Why is Chris wrong about Custer waiting for the guns and more bellycrawlers?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers
    Bill,

    Why is Chris wrong about Custer waiting for the guns and more bellycrawlers?
    The Soiux had no intention of retiring. Chief Sitting Bull sought a decisive battle against the US Army. Custer, believing he was in a pursuit/exploitation mode(hence leaving his heavy equipment behind), stumbled right into the entire Soiux Nation.

    Therefore, Custer had time to wait. In fact, not waiting doomed them all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by M21Sniper
    The Soiux had no intention of retiring. Chief Sitting Bull sought a decisive battle against the US Army. Custer, believing he was in a pursuit/exploitation mode(hence leaving his heavy equipment behind), stumbled right into the entire Soiux Nation.

    Therefore, Custer had time to wait. In fact, not waiting doomed them all.
    Gibbon was at least a day away. From the moment Custer made contact with the Sioux patrols, hindsight tells us his only option was to run like hell.

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    Quote Originally Posted by parihaka
    Gibbon was at least a day away. From the moment Custer made contact with the Sioux patrols, hindsight tells us his only option was to run like hell.
    Custer fatally blundered long before his patrols ever established contact with the enemy. So did Yamamoto, and so did MacArthur.

    Along with the others, Custer's was a failure of intelligence and planning. Many battles are won or lost before a single soldier even shoulders a rifle. Little Bighorn was one of them.

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    Just a little side note here according to a welding supervisor I had who was 3/4 Sioux.

    Sitting Bull is famous because he lived to a ripe old age and even toured the US and Europe with Buffalo Bill Cody's western shows. At the Battle of the Little Big Horn, he was the Chief Medicine Man and was partially (if not fully) responsible for the coalition of Sioux and Cheyenne to gain the number of warriors needed for a decisive battle.

    The battle strategy, however, was planned by warrior Chief Crazy Horse. When Reno split off, Crazy Horse dispatched just enough warriors to keep Reno's head down while his main force decimated "Yellow Hair" and his men.

    I was told by a full blooded Apache friend of mine that both Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse knew of Custer's intent to run for the Presidency that year if he had a tremendous victory under his belt "to make the West safer for settlers".

    In other words, they were not dumb savages but probably had a better intelligence network than Custer did. Therefore, they knew their enemy much better than he did and without the egotistical bravado of Colonel (busted from General) George Armstrong Custer.

    At least in the Errol Flynn movie (where Flynn plays Custer) he gives Crazy Horse (played by Anthony Quinn) credit as being "the best light cavalry I have ever seen." And in retrospect, they were especially under the combat command of Crazy Horse and inspired by the personage of Sitting Bull.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisF202
    Could Custer have won at Little Big Horn if he brought along the 2 Gatling guns he was offered?

    I cant say I have a good idea as it still would have been appx. 5,000 to 300ish with Custer in addition to about 300 more with Reno and Benteen, not good odds and plus the area is very hilly so it would have been hard to deploy the Gatlings in a good spot.
    Anybody know any specifics of Gatling Gun crew drill? How long to get it into action? What reload times were? etc.
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

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    As the training and proficiency of Guard companies and regiments progressed, one commander decided to up the ante. Colonel Charles R.E. Koch, 1 st Infantry, planned a night alert for his men. At 1:10 in the morning on their third night in camp, he awoke his adjutant and instructed him to quietly assemble the band. Ten minutes later a shot was fired and the band played “to arms.” “Company E and the Gatling [gun] section reported in three minutes from the time the first note sounded, and the entire command was turned over to me in eight minutes.”22 This drill acknowledged that the Guardsmen of the 1880s were upholding the tradition of the Minutemen of the Revolutionary War.
    FROM HERE

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    Quote Originally Posted by parihaka
    Parihaka,
    Thanks for the link. However, it sounds like the times reflect how long it took for particular units to muster into formation, rather than actual crew drill times
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

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