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Re: Custer rifle

Posted by steve miller on Friday, 14 July 2017, at 12:03 a.m., in response to Re: Custer rifle, posted by Larry Gibson on Thursday, 13 July 2017, at 7:57 p.m.

Larry, I'm not saying you are wrong. What I am saying is that I believe it would be highly unlikely for an Indian to have acquired a 45-70 rifle during the '76 campaign from an infantryman other that the 3 soldiers that Gibbon's 7th Infantry lost early on (or one dropped from exhaustion during the Starvation March. At the Rosebud (this according to J.W. Vaughn's "With Crook at the Rosebud"), all of the KIA were indeed cavalrymen. While 4 of the 5 infantry companies involved suffered no casualties in that day-long battle, the other, Company D, Fourth Infantry under Capt Avery Cain did suffer 3 wounded, privates, Devine, Flynn and Terry. However I do not believe this company was involved in any close (or hand-to-hand) combat such as that seen by the 3rd Cavalry companies engaged on the left under command of Lt Col William B. Royall, 3rd Cavalry. It was his squadrons that suffered all of the KIA and all but 5 (including the 3 from 4D) of the wounded.

At the Battle of Wolf Mountain, Miles suffered five dead and eight wounded, but Miles held the field at the end of the day and Crazy HOrse's attack was "handily repulsed", according to Cozzens "The Earth is Weaping". Under these conditions, I would think it unlikely (although not impossible) that a rifle or more would have ended up in the possession of a Sioux as a result of this battle.

I have not been able to locate any material that would lead me to believe that because many of the infantrymen were as untrained as many of the cavalrymen involved in the campaign of '76, that these infantrymen ran away from the Sioux/Cheyenne; could you provide your reference(s) for this assertion? From my reading, attacks against infantrymen armed with the breech-loading Long Toms were almost always handily repulsed. This led many army officers after the '76 campaign to rethink the relative value of infantry on campaign vs cavalry (tough words to take for this old cavalry reenactor to take, believe me.) Thanks. Steve


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