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Custer at Little Bighorn: A Deep Political Hypothesis
#1
The Battle of the Little Bighorn (a/k/a Custer's Last Stand and the Battle of the Greasy Grass) stands with Gettysburg and the Alamo in the holy trinity of American military engagements fought on the home continent. The events of Sunday, June 25, 1876 leading to the annihilation of Brevet Major General George Armstrong Custer's command nucleus of five troops of the 7th U.S. Cavalry along the banks of a narrow, twisting river in the high plains country of what is now eastern Montana remain the subjects of intense scrutiny by an international cadre of scholars, amateur historians, and "buffs."

Literally thousands of books focusing on that engagement and its principal combatants have been published in the intervening 134 years. Yet mysteries and impassioned arguments regarding everything from the development of the battle itself to the motives and even mental states of Custer and at least two of his junior officers are ongoing.

For the purposes of this forum, I'll put forward the following hypothesis:

Deep political forces within the military/industrial complex of the time conspired to embarrass Custer -- and thus neutralize him as a political force viewed as a serious impediment to the fulfillment of Manifest Destiny -- by sabotaging his actions during the Montana campaign.

ITEM -- Custer had incurred the undying enmity of President Ulysses Grant. Earlier in 1876, the House Committee on Military Expenditures had conducted an investigation of various acts of Secretary of War William W. Belknap. Custer was called to testify in the proceedings. He all but confirmed the accusations not only against Belknap, but also against President Grant's brother, Orville Grant.

ITEM -- Custer had incurred the undying enmity of mining and railroad interests. In 1875, Custer had made a solemn, spiritual commitment to the Sioux (hereinafter Lakota) that he would not fight Native Americans again. Custer's promise coincided with a U.S. Senate commission meeting with Lakota leaders to purchase access to the gold mining fields in the Black Hills (which Custer had discovered a year earlier). The Lakota eventually turned down the government offer in favor of an 1868 treaty that promised U.S. military protection of their lands.

ITEM -- Custer, writing under the nom de plume Nomad in "Turf, Field and Farm," had reached a wide audience with his idealized depictions of "noble savages" and wilderness worth preserving. At its core, the conflict between the indigenous peoples of the North American continent and Americans was and remains a spiritual conflict (ask Leonard Peltier).

How was the aforementioned "sabotage" carried out?

To reduce a long and complex story to its essence: Custer's attack on the huge village encountered at Little Bighorn was doomed to failure due to the actions and inactions of the subordinate officers to whom he had entrusted command of combat battalions.

Historians continue to try -- in vain -- to explain why Captain Frederick Benteen refused to obey Custer's direct, written order, issued in the heat of battle, to ride to his commander's relief. As Custer's battalion came under fire, and as Major Marcus Reno senselessly ended his all-important charge against the village and retreated in panic across the river to take up a defensive position some five miles distant from Custer's final stand, Benteen casually watered his horses miles from the action and finally came up at a trot.

Benteen, an avowed Custer hater, found Reno's whipped troops and, rather than rallying them in a march toward Custer, sat impassively within the sound of Custer's vollying rifle fire (an established signal to indicate position and predicament) and allowed his commander's battalion to be destroyed.

I submit that the confusion of historians is the product of the absence of deep political analysis of Little Bighorn.

As for Jan's inquiry: You should not read the absurdly condensed narrative offered above as an argument for George Armstrong Custer's highly developed moral conscience. The Boy General was an opportunist of the highest order. And he was America's first modern public relations creation (In violation of a direct order, he brought Mark Kellogg, a reporter for the Bismarck Tribune, with him on the final campaign. They died less than a mile apart.).

There is much more to tell. My hypothesis is the basis for a motion picture that I'm currently writing. The story of Little Bighorn is a bonanza for sub-plots. The best: The only officer at the Reno-Benteen position who attempted to ride to Custer's aid was Captain Thomas Weir -- the man who Custer suspected of having had an affair with Elizabeth Bacon Custer. Weir survived the Custer fight only to die -- allegedly of acute alcoholism -- less than six months later. Shortly before his demise, he wrote to Libby Custer to note that he knew the "real" story of why her husband perished.

In any event, I hope this little exercise in deep political thinking helps us along as we pursue more contemporary -- but hardly more relevant -- inquiries.
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#2
Interesting challenge, Charles, especially in light of the recent reference to Obama's handling of the Gulf oil spill as Custer-like in his inability to gage the scope of the thing, or to see all the Indians behind the hill. I've read some of those books, but I don't have time to go back and re-study them. [My waiting list for reading is 12 books deep already, including the just recently arrived gems by Albarelli and Seymour's "Last Circle", among others, whose publisher told me that the Evica offering is coming soon.] I'd suggest some consideration for the following in that investigation:

1) What, specifically, was the battlefield information or intelligence available to the US cavalry chain of command (and especially Custer) at the critical moments?

2) What factors -- aside from or in addition to the deep politics of US governance and military affairs -- were present in terms of the nature of the encounter... small, highly-mobile forces in a vast wilderness restrained by extremely slow communications? In addition, how did US cavalry mindset and tactics as evolved from the Civil War function in this type of encounter?

3) What factors play a role in terms of the Native-American deep familiarity with horseback warfare in the wilderness, their tactics and strategy, their own superiority in terms of battlefield intelligence, etc.?

4) What elements emerge from the telling of the tale by Native Americans and how might that have been compromised by our own inability to speak their language, understand their culture and mindset, or even to the extent that that history was 'cooked' by white genocidal imperialists? Are there modern-day people who represent the American Indian perspective whose viewpoints might be useful?

5) What about Custer's own temperament, Germanic roots, West Point mediocrity, proven military audacity, forensic psychological perspectives and ambitions?

From that most august of sources, WIkipedia:

""Custer's style of battle was often claimed to be reckless or foolhardy, but military planning was always the basis of every Custer "dash". As Marguerite Merrington explains in The Custer Story in Letters, "George Custer meticulously scouted every battlefield, gauged the enemies [sic?] weak points and strengths.... Custer established a reputation as an aggressive cavalry brigade commander willing to take personal risks...."

Being a student of the battle, as well as military history, strategy and tactics, and performance psychology, I always thought of Custer as the poster boy for the foolhardiness for arrogance in warfare.

Again, Wikipedia:

"One of Custer's finest hours in the Civil War occurred just east of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863.....Custer's brigade lost 257 men at Gettysburg, the highest loss of any Union cavalry brigade.[11] "I challenge the annals of warfare to produce a more brilliant or successful charge of cavalry", Custer wrote in his report.[12]"

"Custer led the 7th U.S. Cavalry in an attack on the Cheyenne encampment of Black Kettle — the Battle of Washita River on November 27, 1868. Custer reported killing 103 warriors; estimates by the Cheyenne of their casualties were substantially lower (11 warriors plus 19 women and children);[28] some women and children were also killed, and US troops took 53 women and children prisoner. Custer had his men shoot most of the 875 Indian ponies they had captured."

Was Custer merely an egotistical maniacal psychopath in search of glory and fame? He found it.

But Wikipedia also offers up this:

Grant, Belknap and Politics

[Image: 220px-Custer9.jpg] [Image: magnify-clip.png]
Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer, 7th U.S. Cavalry, ca. 1875


The expedition against the Sioux was originally scheduled to leave Fort Abraham Lincoln on April 6, 1876, but on March 15, Custer was summoned to Washington to testify at Congressional hearings regarding the scandal involving U.S. Secretary of War William W. Belknap and President Grant's brother Orville. After testifying on March 29 and April 4, Custer testified in support of the Democrats before the Banning Committee. After Belknap was indicted, Custer secured release and left Washington on April 20. Instead of immediately returning to Fort Lincoln, he visited the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia and traveled to New York to meet with his publishers. While there, he was summoned to the U.S. Senate, possibly a move instigated by President Grant.
Returning to Washington on April 21, Custer found he was the center of a campaign of vilification in the Republican media. He was accused of perjury and disparagement of brother officers. General Sherman asked the new Secretary of War, Alphonso Taft, to write a letter requesting Custer's release so Custer could take command of the Fort Lincoln expedition against the Lakota. President Grant prohibited sending the letter and ordered Taft to appoint another officer to take command. When Brig. Gen. Alfred Terry determined there were no available officers of rank to take command, Sherman ordered him to make an appointment. Stunned that he would not be in command, Custer approached the impeachment managers and secured his release. General Sherman advised Custer not to leave Washington before meeting personally with President Grant. Custer arranged for Colonel Rufus Ingalls to request a meeting, which Grant refused. On the evening of May 3, Custer took a train to Chicago.
The following morning General Sherman sent a telegram to General Sheridan ordering him to intercept Custer and hold him until further orders. Sheridan was also ordered to arrange for the expedition against the Lakota to depart with Major Reno's replacing Custer. Sherman, Sheridan, and Terry all wanted Custer in command but had to support Grant. Sherman wrote Terry: "Custer's political activity has compromised his best friends here, and almost deprived us of the ability to serve him".[citation needed]
Brig. Gen. Terry met Custer in Fort Snelling, Minnesota on May 6. He later recalled, "(Custer) with tears in his eyes, begged for my aid. How could I resist it?"[citation needed]. Terry wrote to Grant attesting to the advantages of Custer's leading the expedition. Sheridan endorsed his effort, accepting Custer's "guilt" and suggesting his restraint in future. Grant was already under pressure for his treatment of Custer and his administration worried about failure of the "Sioux campaign" without him. Grant would be blamed if perceived as ignoring the recommendations of senior Army officers. On May 8 Custer was informed at Fort Snelling that he was to lead the 7th Cavalry, but under Terry's direct supervision.
Before leaving Fort Snelling, Custer spoke to General Terry's chief engineer, Captain Ludlow, saying he would "cut loose" from Terry the first chance he got. Critics have used this statement to conclude that Custer was to blame for the resulting disaster by seeking to claim independent victory.[citation needed]


Indeed, it is a fascinating topic; I shall subscribe to the thread.


"When writing about Custer, neutral ground is elusive. What should Custer have done at any of the critical junctures that rapidly presented themselves, each now the subject of endless speculation and rumination? There will always be a variety of opinions based upon what Custer knew, what he did not know, and what he could not have known..." —from Touched by Fire: The Life, Death, and Mythic Afterlife of George Armstrong Custer by Louise Barnett.[62]
"Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"
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#3
Your questions are insightful and demonstrative of a keen grasp of deep politics. Abbreviated answers follow.

Ed Jewett Wrote:1) What, specifically, was the battlefield information or intelligence available to the US cavalry chain of command (and especially Custer) at the critical moments?

There is a suspicious disconnect between what the government knew and what Custer was told in terms of the cumulative size of hostile bands awaiting him. It should surprise no one who reads this forum that, by most accounts, Custer was led to believe that the number of warriors likely to fight was significantly smaller than the number he actually encountered.

Ed Jewett Wrote:2) What factors -- aside from or in addition to the deep politics of US governance and military affairs -- were present in terms of the nature of the encounter... small, highly-mobile forces in a vast wilderness restrained by extremely slow communications? In addition, how did US cavalry mindset and tactics as evolved from the Civil War function in this type of encounter?

The government forces in the Montana campaign were, in the agregate, large. They were divided in order to maximize the chances for picking up the hostile trails and effecting a pincer movement designed to corral hostiles and return them to reservations.

The speed of communications was what it was, and thus commanders were given what by today's standards would be considered extraordinary leeway once in the field. Custer's own final written orders from General Terry, issued on June 22, 1876, contain the following:

"It is, impossible to give you any definite instructions in regard to this movement, and were it not impossible to do so the Department Commander places too much confidence in your zeal, energy, and ability to wish to impose upon you precise orders which might hamper your action when nearly in contact with the enemy. He will, however, indicate to you his own views of what your action should be, and he desires that you should conform to them unless you shall see sufficient reason for departing from them."

So I'd take issue with your use of the word "restrained" in this context. Custer did what he was empowered to do (he said with a certainty otherwise lacking in informed discussions of the orders issue).

The tactics employed by Custer at Little Bighorn, while in part the product of literally centuries of evolving cavalry warfare, were most heavily influenced by decades of Great Plains warfare. They were appropriate for the engagement at hand.

For insight into cavalry tactics of the day, you might wish to study the events at Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift in the Zulu War of 1879 -- battles deliciously related, on multiple levels, to the Custer and Reno/Benteen engagements. I highly recommend The Dust Rose Like Smoke: The Subjugation of the Zulu and Sioux, by James O. Cump.

Ed Jewett Wrote:3) What factors play a role in terms of the Native-American deep familiarity with horseback warfare in the wilderness, their tactics and strategy, their own superiority in terms of battlefield intelligence, etc.?

I'm afraid your question is a tad ethnocentric. For the most part, the Sioux, Cheyenne, and other tribal peoples at Little Bighorn fought on foot -- the flanking charge of Crazy Horse (Teshunka Witko) duly noted and notwithstanding. And there is no reputable evidence to suggest that any "superiority in terms of battlefield intelligence" accrued to the Native Americans that day. Their victory was a jazz solo -- improvised brilliantly, at times over standard chord changes, at times atonaly, at times with total freedom.

Ed Jewett Wrote:4) What elements emerge from the telling of the tale by Native Americans and how might that have been compromised by our own inability to speak their language, understand their culture and mindset, or even to the extent that that history was 'cooked' by white genocidal imperialists? Are there modern-day people who represent the American Indian perspective whose viewpoints might be useful?[

One of the striking deep political aspects of the Little Bighorn is the cover-up that immediately followed. A central tenet of my hypothesis is that a dead Custer, like a dead Tillman, was used to rally the country to the imperialist agenda by demonizing the evil-doers who took these heroic lives. To accomplish this task, the historiography of the event had to be owned by those who needed to bury the truth. Just look at how original battlefield maps were altered to support the final official battle report.

Contemporary historians writing on Little Bighorn are coming to question the long-held conventional wisdom that Custer was a most foolish imperialist. But none have gone into the sort of deep political analysis I am attempting -- albeit in a fictional form. At some point soon I'll post a halfway-decent bibliography for you.

Ed Jewett Wrote:"When writing about Custer, neutral ground is elusive. What should Custer have done at any of the critical junctures that rapidly presented themselves, each now the subject of endless speculation and rumination? There will always be a variety of opinions based upon what Custer knew, what he did not know, and what he could not have known..." —from Touched by Fire: The Life, Death, and Mythic Afterlife of George Armstrong Custer by Louise Barnett.[

Not a bad analysis.

But again, absent application of deep political insight, the Battle of the Little Bighorn will remain significantly misunderstood on any number of crucially significant levels. And the post-modern "we can never know anything" mantra will continue to be chanted.
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#4
Ed Jewett Wrote:Interesting challenge, Charles, especially in light of the recent reference to Obama's handling of the Gulf oil spill as Custer-like in his inability to gage the scope of the thing, or to see all the Indians behind the hill.

One additional point: Custer knew well enough how many hostiles were "behind the hills." His battle plan would have worked had Benteen come on quickly.

Or at least so say I.
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#5
Quoting Jewett:
1) What, specifically, was the battlefield information or intelligence available to the US cavalry chain of command (and especially Custer) at the critical moments?

Quoting Drago: "There is a suspicious disconnect between what the government knew and what Custer was told in terms of the cumulative size of hostile bands awaiting him. It should surprise no one who reads this forum that, by most accounts, Custer was led to believe that the number of warriors likely to fight was significantly smaller than the number he actually encountered."

Again, I'd have to dig deep into the records and I did note specificity, but your statement sounds much like Cheney suggesting the Iraqis would throw flowers at the feet of the conquerors and other suggestions that we would be out of Afghanistan soon. The tactics against indigenous tribes will be the same, however: brutal and sometimes mass murder. Was there a similar "disconnect" in understanding the degree to which the local populace would fight to defend their turf? Was there a blindness in some sense to the technique of the ambush? There shouldn't have been, but perhaps they did not think the Indian capable of an ambush on a larger scale than they had experienced.

Quoting Jewett:
2) What factors -- aside from or in addition to the deep politics of US governance and military affairs -- were present in terms of the nature of the encounter... small, highly-mobile forces in a vast wilderness restrained by extremely slow communications? In addition, how did US cavalry mindset and tactics as evolved from the Civil War function in this type of encounter?

Quoting Drago: "The government forces in the Montana campaign were, in the agregate, large. They were divided in order to maximize the chances for picking up the hostile trails and effecting a pincer movement designed to corral hostiles and return them to reservations.

The speed of communications was what it was, and thus commanders were given what by today's standards would be considered extraordinary leeway once in the field...."

Well, the mobility and decison-making wasn't restrained, but you make a good point; what you describe sounds remarkably similar to the way Napoleon used his three corp system as a weighted net, each corps Marshall expecting to act wisely, independently and with audacity within a system. As I re-read the account in Wikipedia, I take note of the lobbying done to free Custer from the restraint of his political disagreement and court martial; it would be interesting to review what he knew or was told as he departed for the front, as he arrived at his departure site, and -- most importantly-- what the communications among the separated generalship was. It's been a while since I've read all this stuff. I look forward to the bibliography.

With regard to point #3, I might take issue with you, but -- as noted-- the material is not in front of me, nor fresh, not had I been introduced to deep political thinking when I read it. I know better than to argue jazz with you, and I'm not sure I want to argue with you in terms of deep politics, either. I'm still learning about both. [Tonight's lesson in jazz was listening to Herb Alpert and Lani Hall and their ensemble on their album "Anything Goes".]

On point #4, I suspect you are correct.

Additionally, it would be well to add detail in terms of the politics, background, and players operating in Washington.

With regard to the communications, I think the Plains Indian was superior at scouting; their very survival depended upon it, and the US Army used friendly Indians for this purpose themselves; there may have been some mission communications interference as a result, though I doubt this was a significant factor, as they used tribal hate in a way that is parallel to today. In addition, at short distances, the Native Americans may have had at their disposal a faster (or more effective) communications system; this deserves some research. In addition, some mechanism of graphically depicting or simulating the speed with which the specific communications flowed would be useful. I have no doubt that the telegraph served the US Army well; the question is the extent to which it extended and penetrated and reached front-line command posts or generals in the saddle.

One thing that might help is if we could find a video or a game or some mechanism that would allow, as is done in the military, for a "command ride" of the ground.

This, by the way, is very similar to the kinds of debates, writing, etc. that surrounds many similar military events; one of the more notable is the one that posits that the South might have actually won at Gettysburg if Stuart had shown up properly, or if Ewell could have pushed his men hard enough to have secured Culp's Hill.
"Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"
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#6
Ed Jewett Wrote:Was there a similar "disconnect" in understanding the degree to which the local populace would fight to defend their turf? Was there a blindness in some sense to the technique of the ambush? There shouldn't have been, but perhaps they did not think the Indian capable of an ambush on a larger scale than they had experienced.

No misunderstanding whatsoever. A tried-and-true Army tactic when attacking a village was to capture women and children, and then use the hostages to force the warriors to surrender. I share a minority viewpoint that Custer tried to do just that at Little Bighorn (LBH).

And let's be clear: There was no "ambush" in play at LBH. This postulate has been used to enhance the image of a treacherous and otherwise hapless enemy aided and abetted by half-breed America-haters. In point of fact Custer's advance on the village was so unexpected that his column was first noticed by women picking wild turnips along the riverbank -- hardly the activity and location to be expected of non-combatants of a village knowingly about to be attacked.

Ed Jewett Wrote:With regard to point #3, I might take issue with you, but -- as noted-- the material is not in front of me, nor fresh, not had I been introduced to deep political thinking when I read it. I know better than to argue jazz with you, and I'm not sure I want to argue with you in terms of deep politics, either. I'm still learning about both.

NONSENSE! If you refuse to take issue with me, then there is no point in carrying on this or any other discussion. I respect your mind and your knowledge. Use 'em or lose 'em.

Ed Jewett Wrote:[Tonight's lesson in jazz was listening to Herb Alpert and Lani Hall and their ensemble on their album "Anything Goes".]

But if you would dare characterize the Alpert/Hall ensemble as "jazz" (which is tantamount to characterizing Oswald as an "assassin"), then you are wise indeed to avoid discussion of the music I most love.

(Out of the kindness of my heart: If you want to experience the epitome of female jazz ballad singing, try Shirley Horn's Here's to Life CD.)

Ed Jewett Wrote:With regard to the communications, I think the Plains Indian was superior at scouting; their very survival depended upon it, and the US Army used friendly Indians for this purpose themselves; there may have been some mission communications interference as a result, though I doubt this was a significant factor, as they used tribal hate in a way that is parallel to today.

Custer's advance was not discovered until his attack had begun; thus the scouting issue in terms of hostile advantage is moot.

Custer's Crow and Arikara scouts were the blood enemies of the Sioux. Pitting tribe against tribe is one of the oldest and most effective of deep political tactics. I give you Liberal v. Conservative.

Ed Jewett Wrote:In addition, at short distances, the Native Americans may have had at their disposal a faster (or more effective) communications system; this deserves some research. In addition, some mechanism of graphically depicting or simulating the speed with which the specific communications flowed would be useful. I have no doubt that the telegraph served the US Army well; the question is the extent to which it extended and penetrated and reached front-line command posts or generals in the saddle.

Within the context of the LBH, the only communication issue worth noting relates to inter-battalion messaging. Clearly Custer's written order to Benteen to "come on" arrived in a timely fashion; Benteen's failure to ride to his commander's aid was a function of willful disobedience rather than any breakdown in communication.

Battlefield communication under LBH-like circumstances included the aforementioned volley fire -- a technique Custer used in vain as Benteen, well within earshot of the signals, held his then-safe ground. As one military veteran has observed, a commander cannot expect to carry the day when two-thirds of his troops are within the sound of his rifle fire yet do nothing.

Ed Jewett Wrote:This, by the way, is very similar to the kinds of debates, writing, etc. that surrounds many similar military events; one of the more notable is the one that posits that the South might have actually won at Gettysburg if Stuart had shown up properly, or if Ewell could have pushed his men hard enough to have secured Culp's Hill.

The more we know for certain about an event, the less there is to debate. A deep political analysis of LBH is long overdue -- not to mention highly relevant to studies of more recent events.
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#7
Shakes head :hmmmm: confused... Herb Alpert and jazz?? Tell me it ain't so Ed? :ahhhhh:
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
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#8
Well, I am being spanked on all fronts here in a game in which I admitted I was unprepared. I take it in good jest and the spirit of the encounter. I threw out Herb Alpert knowing full well it would rankle some to have called it jazz; the group features a pianist who is pretty good, a black fellow with an Islamic name on electric upright bass who sounds pretty good; drums and other percussion; and a fellow on trumpet. The first part of the album features the husband-and-wife team moving through a Brazilian flavored series in which she sings in Portuguese at a rapid clip and tells the audience -- without taking a breath during a brief interlude -- that this is where they can sing along with her. Ha! The album features five "standards" and is distributed by Concord Jazz and cuts were recorded at the Jazz Alley in Seattle and some placed in Boston Mr. Drago has no doubt visited or at least heard of by the name Scullers. You can call it what you'd like. I call it an enjoyable interlude with some romantic themes I can pass on to my children and their significant others that I can enjoy while I await two forthcoming purchases of some Clark Terry material (no, not Colonel Alfred Terry, on trumpet) and so I don't wear out my Keith Jarrett, Dave Brubeck, Ahmad Jamal, Cannonball Adderley, and Art Blakey palate. I am familiar with (and also highly commend) that Shirley Horn cut, but not the album. I'm not heavy into female jazz singers, though I did finally succumb to an NPR 'gathering' that has a favorite of mine by Diana Krall in Paris doing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqGuFfeAdgw "I Love Being Here With You". Cassandra Wilson has been known to melt me with a rendition of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRsN-VnZwQg Harvest Moon.

I was in a Borders store years looking to begin my jazz music collection when this elegant and attractive black woman came by and asked me what kind of jazz I liked. I froze like a deer in the headlights. I can now at least respond semi-intelligently that I am into bop, hard bop, "Western cool" (if that is the right appellation for Brubeck), and more. I know what I like when I hear it, and I appreciate that most don't know their knee from their elbow when it comes to the subject, history and breadth of the jazz topic.

As for the Little Big Horn question and Charles' hypothesis, as noted, the necessary materials to examine the question in depth have not been assembled by me. The project sounds interesting, but I will refrain for the moment (unless there is remuneration or a book contract someone wants to dangle) as I have lots of other stuff on my plate in general. For me to be comfortable in getting my teeth sunk deep into this question would require weeks of research, and what would amount to a post-graduate-level advanced course in history. Consistent with the theme and the fact that Elizabeth Mayer's information from "Extraordinary Knowing" was in front of me as I took my invalid mother-in-law to the cardiologists' office this morning, I'd raise the question as to whether Sitting Bull's vision of "soldiers falling into his camp like grasshoppers from the sky" wasn't an early example of remote viewing.

It is a lovely thought, this debate; I do it disservice if I can't fully commit to doing the reading, but I would wonder if it wasn't Custer's own hubris and arrogance that told him not to bring the Gatling guns.

From WikiPedia:

"In 1875, Sitting Bull created the Sun Dance alliance between the Lakota and the Cheyenne,[citation needed] a religious ceremony which celebrates the spiritual rebirth of participants. One had taken place around June 5, 1876, on the Rosebud River in Montana, involving Agency Native Americans who had slipped away from their reservations to join the Hostiles.[2] During the event, Sitting Bull reportedly had a vision of "soldiers falling into his camp like grasshoppers from the sky."[3] At the same time, military officials had a summer campaign underway to force the Lakota and Cheyenne back to their reservations, using infantry and cavalry in a three-pronged approach.
Col. John Gibbon's column of six companies (A, B, E, H, I, and K) of the 7th Infantry and four companies (F, G, H, and L) of the 2nd Cavalry marched east from Fort Ellis in western Montana on March 30, to patrol the Yellowstone River. Brig. Gen. George Crook's column of ten companies (A, B, C, D, E, F, G, I, L, and M) of the 3rd Cavalry, five (A, B, D, E, and I) of the 2nd Cavalry, two companies (D and F) of the 4th Infantry, and three companies (C, G, and H) of the 9th Infantry, moved north from Fort Fetterman in the Wyoming Territory on May 29, marching toward the Powder River area. Brig. Gen. Alfred Terry's column, including twelve companies (A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, K, L, and M) of the 7th Cavalry under Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer's immediate command,[4] Companies C and G of the 17th U.S. Infantry, and the Gatling gun detachment of the 20th Infantry departed westward from Fort Abraham Lincoln in the Dakota Territory on May 17. They were accompanied by teamsters and packers with 150 wagons and a large contingent of pack mules that reinforced Custer. Companies C, D, and I of the 6th U.S. Infantry, moved along the Yellowstone River from Fort Buford on the Missouri River to set up a supply depot, and joined Terry on May 29 at the mouth of the Powder River.
The coordination and planning began to go awry on June 17, 1876, when Crook's column was delayed after the Battle of the Rosebud. Surprised and, according to some accounts, astonished by the unusually large numbers of Native American in the battle, a defeated Crook was compelled to pull back, halt and regroup. Unaware of Crook's battle, Gibbon and Terry proceeded, joining forces in early June near the mouth of the Rosebud River. They reviewed Terry's plan calling for Custer's regiment to proceed south along the Rosebud, while Terry and Gibbon's united forces would move in a westerly direction toward the Bighorn and Little Bighorn rivers. As this was the likely location of Indian encampments, all Army elements were to converge around June 26 or 27, attempting to engulf the Native Americans. On June 22, Terry ordered the 7th Cavalry, composed of 31 officers and 566 enlisted men under Custer, to begin a reconnaissance and pursuit along the Rosebud, with the prerogative to "depart" from orders upon seeing "sufficient reason." Custer had been offered the use of Gatling guns but declined, believing they would slow his command.[5]
While the Terry/Gibbon column was marching toward the mouth of the Little Bighorn, on the evening of June 24, Custer's scouts arrived at an overlook known as the Crow's Nest, 14 miles (23 km) east of the Little Bighorn River. At sunrise on June 25, Custer's scouts reported they could see a massive pony herd and signs of the Native American village roughly 15 miles (24 km) in the distance. After a night's march, the tired officer sent with the scouts could see neither, and when Custer joined them, he was also unable to make the sighting. Custer's scouts also spotted the regimental cooking fires that could be seen from 10 miles away, disclosing the regiment's position.
Custer contemplated a surprise attack against the encampment the following morning of June 26, but he then received a report informing him several hostile Indians had discovered the trail left by his troops.[6] Assuming his presence had been exposed, Custer decided to attack the village without further delay. On the morning of June 25, Custer divided his 12 companies into three battalions in anticipation of the forthcoming engagement. Three companies were placed under the command of Major Marcus Reno (A, G, and M); and three were placed under the command of Capt. Frederick Benteen (H, D, and K). Five companies (C, E, F, I, and L) remained under Custer's immediate command. The 12th, Company B, under Capt. Thomas McDougald, had been assigned to escort the slower pack train carrying provisions and additional ammunition.[7]
Unbeknownst to Custer, the group of Native Americans seen on his trail were actually leaving the encampment on the Big Horn and did not alert the village. Custer's scouts warned him about the size of the village, with scout Mitch Bouyer reportedly saying, "General, I have been with these Indians for 30 years, and this is the largest village I have ever heard of."[8] Custer's overriding concern was that the Native American group would break up and scatter in different directions. The command began its approach to the Native American village at 12 noon and prepared to attack in full daylight.[9]


There is far more, but dinner, drinks, and musssels with my wife is on tonight's agenda, and the first grandchild (the one who appears at the age of 2.5 to be gifted) is due tomorrow for the day.
"Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"
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#9
The dinner was great (fried oysters Shandong, Thai swordfish). I take note that several music videos are available from the album that is questionably jazz. I note also that all I could manage in high school AP History, taught by a local professor from the nearby college named Richard Newhall, was a C, but then he was a tough and demanding teacher from a (arguably THE) pre-eminent locus for preparing high state officialdom of various sorts. Classmates and schoolmates included the children of James MacGregor Burns. but none of that seemed to have rubbed off either.

That discussion board known colloquially as "Freeper" has a video and a discussion of "betrayal" at LBH which I do not, without proper research on my own, proffer as valid or accurate: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-blog...1241/posts

Thinking out loud, if I were to attempt an analysis of this hypothesis, I would assemble the following (this is an incomplete list):

1) Maps
a) of that time and use and campaign;
b) accurate topographic map;
c) modern depictions of the campaign;

2) Board game and/or Computer Simulation (if they exist) (which is not to suggest their automatic acceptability as a source but merely as an aide to thinking and the depiction of accounts, theses, etc.);

3) Order of Battle (both sides)
(including some reference that is historically accurate as to their degree of armament)

4) Cast of Characters Not Engaged in Battle
a) Other military figures
b) politicians
c) Other

5) List of resources
bibliography (insuring a variety of sources)
military analyses, past and present
political analyses of that time period across the decades since...

Perhaps the book "The Mansion of History" by Carl Gustason (McGraw-Hill 1976) that I have been keeping like the iNTp that I am will now come in handy.
"Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"
Reply
#10
Ed Jewett Wrote:[S]ome placed in Boston Mr. Drago has no doubt visited or at least heard of by the name Scullers.

Heard of and listened in. An unassuming but intimate room in which I rubbed ears with Shirley Horn, the brilliant Brazilian singer/pianist Eliane Elias (her Dreamer CD is not to be missed) and the master alto saxophonist Phil Woods (Live at Montreux on MGM is one for the ages), among others.


Ed Jewett Wrote:You can call it what you'd like. I call it an enjoyable interlude with some romantic themes I can pass on to my children and their significant others that I can enjoy while I await two forthcoming purchases of some Clark Terry material (no, not Colonel Alfred Terry, on trumpet) and so I don't wear out my Keith Jarrett, Dave Brubeck, Ahmad Jamal, Cannonball Adderley, and Art Blakey palate.

All players named among the best. CT's Riverside albums are among his finest.

Ed Jewett Wrote:I'd raise the question as to whether Sitting Bull's vision of "soldiers falling into his camp like grasshoppers from the sky" wasn't an early example of remote viewing..

You can call it what you'd like. This is a very profound observation. The acceptance of such experience as a spiritual phenomenon stands in stark contrast to the efforts to quantify and weaponize it -- a contrast that speaks volumes about the deepest levels of conflict between "primitive" and "civilized" peoples.

Ed Jewett Wrote:It is a lovely thought, this debate; I do it disservice if I can't fully commit to doing the reading, but I would wonder if it wasn't Custer's own hubris and arrogance that told him not to bring the Gatling guns.

In rereading my posts here I am discomforted by a subtext which may lead some to describe me as a Custer apologist. In fact, I am nothing of the sort -- even in light of the fact that I must point out how "hubris" and "arrogance" were descriptors assigned to Custer by, among others, those looking to diminish his capabilities (anti-mortem) and scapegoat him at LBH (post mortem; this act has been poetically described as "kicking the dead lion").

Let us recall how JFK has been similarly tainted: It is falsely argued that he ordered minimal Secret Service protection, and thus he is responsible for his own death.

Hubris is an inescapable component of the psychology of leadership.

Arrogance, of course, is another story.

In the scapegoating phase of the LBH debacle, Custer often was quoted as having said repeatedly, in effect, "With my Seventh Cavalry I can whip the entire Sioux nation." Assuming for the sake of argument that such a sentiment was expressed by the Boy General, there are good reasons to accept the statement as A) a "cheer" used to instill pride and confidence in his command; B) a good-natured boast of the sort commonly exchanged among commanders; C) a public relations ploy by one of America's earliest public relations masters.

To be as boldly unconventional as possible: I see no evidence whatsoever of fatally inappropriate arrogance in any command decisions made by Custer at LBH -- absent those attributed to him by individuals and institutions who stood to profit from broad public acceptance of the notion of Custer as the agent of his own demise.

I buy Custer's Gatling gun argument: Speed was of the essence for the Montana columns. The theater's terrain would have posed serious obstacles to gun/caisson transport. The pack train that did accompany Custer's column amounted to a grand if unavoidable hindrance.

And to play the what-if game: How might Custer have utilized a Gatling battery? Set up a firing position across the river and rake the village into submission? As if the hostiles would have permitted him the luxury of the time it would take to establish such an in-range firing location.

Ed Jewett Wrote:There is far more, but dinner, drinks, and musssels with my wife is on tonight's agenda, and the first grandchild (the one who appears at the age of 2.5 to be gifted) is due tomorrow for the day.

A wise tactical decision to be sure.

Ed Jewett Wrote:Thinking out loud, if I were to attempt an analysis of this hypothesis, I would assemble the following (this is an incomplete list):

1) Maps
a) of that time and use and campaign;
b) accurate topographic map;
c) modern depictions of the campaign;

2) Board game and/or Computer Simulation (if they exist) (which is not to suggest their automatic acceptability as a source but merely as an aide to thinking and the depiction of accounts, theses, etc.);

3) Order of Battle (both sides)
(including some reference that is historically accurate as to their degree of armament)

4) Cast of Characters Not Engaged in Battle
a) Other military figures
b) politicians
c) Other

5) List of resources
bibliography (insuring a variety of sources)
military analyses, past and present
political analyses of that time period across the decades since...

Of course. I've been engaged in the process for a very long time -- a process which you seem to have remote-viewed. Research has included two lengthy visits to the LBH (including a ride to the Crow's Nest).

At this point I've moved from objective consideration of all sides' arguments to subjective storytelling.

In other words, the fun is over. It's work time.
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