Wild West Discussion – June 2010

How do you grade the Battle of the Little Bighorn performances of Lt. Col. George Custer, Major Marcus Reno and Captain Frederick Benteen on the following grading scale: A-plus (superhero), A (hero), B (almost a hero), C (half hero, half villain), D (mostly a villain), F (failure/supervillain/Lex Luthor of the 7th Cavalry)?

3 Responses

  1. Chuck Bunn

    Captain Benteen acted in the best interest of his command and that of the men with Major Reno, something Lt Col. Custer failed to. You can not attack a highly mobile forces without basic knowledge of the force you are about to engage (something Custer apparently botched), and dividing your command into smaller units only compounds any potential problems.

    Captain Benteen is the true hero.

  2. Bill Blazer

    Well said Chuck. Capt Benteen was the one who saved Reno. Had he not
    returned to the hill where Reno was defending that part of the command would have been wiped out also.. It is a shame that Reno had to take all the heat for Custers stupidity.As for the thoughts that once the two had joined up they should have gone to help Custer is silly. They had wounded men to consider as well as the fact they would have to give up a defendable position. When Lt Weir did attempt to ride to aid Custer he had to turn back due to the Indian force that confronted his advance. Bill

  3. John Koster

    Custer attacled the village thinking that the men were away hunting and he could round up the women and children and use them as hostages. Whatever one thinks of this tactic on high moral grounds, it makes sense tactically. Unfortunately for Custer, the men and teenagers were in the lodges sleeping off an all-night dance and once they emerged and shook off an inital panic they picked up their 16-shot repeating rifles and the catastrophe was a foregone conclusion. Lakota tactics were reactive and showed great courage but no real planning. Benteen hated Custer to obsession but he couldn’t have saved the five companies with the force he had without artillery, which he didn’t have. Reno panicked and was all but useless, but he rapped off the best summation of what happened: “The next time I take the field against the enemy, I hope that both sides are not armed by the same government.” John Koster, author of “Custer Survivor.”


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