This was originally posted on Red State by the member "streiff" and I think it is a pretty good piece. Opinions anyone?
Sunday, June 25, 1876.
Little Big Horn River, Montana
In preparation to attack a large encampment of Sioux and allied tribes, Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer divided the 7th Cavalry into three battalions.
He accompanied the largest battalion commanded by Captain George Yates, who also commanded Company F. It consisted of 13 officers and 198 troopers from Troops C (Captain Tom Custer, commanding and LTC Custer's brother and two time Medal of Honor winner), E (First Lieutenant Algernon Smith), F (Captain George Yates), I (Captain Miles Keogh), and L (1LT James Calhoun, LTC Custer's brother-in-law).
Major Marcus Reno led the 11 officers and 131 troopers from Troops A (Captain Myles Moylan), G (First Lieutenant Donald McIntosh), and M (Captain Thomas French). In addition he was accompanied by some 35 Indian scouts and guides.
Captain Frederick Benteen, simultaneously commanding Troop H, led the 5 officers and 110 troopers from Troops D (Captain Thomas Weir), H (Captain Frederick Benteen), and K (First Lieutenant Edward Godfrey).
Captain Thomas MacDougal commanded B Troop which guarded the pack train and composed 2 officer, 127 troopers and 7 civilian mule skinners.
By the end of the day all the men accompanying Custer, save Trumpter Giovanni Martini, aka John Martin, would be dead. The remainder would be fighting for their lives.
The Battle of the Little Bighorn has been portrayed as the largest victory the American Indian ever celebrated over the forces of the United States, either before or after Independence. It wasn't. The thrashing Arthur St. Clair received at the hands of Little Turtle's Miami Confederacy holds that honor.
In many ways the Little Big Horn holds clues as to how the global war on terrorism could play out. In historical context, the growing American republic had been in conflict with the Plains Indians for about twenty years. They won periodic victories, the uprising in Minnesota in 1863, the Fetterman massacre, the treaty negotiated by Red Cloud that closed the Bozeman Trail. These victories were hollow, bringing only brief respite before yet another onset of settlers, railroads, and telegraph poles. Without stretching an already stretched analogy, a tribal society clinging to ancient ways simply lacked the means to survive the onslaught of modernity.
A society in which the clans and families which made up the tribe relied upon their men for defense and hunting simply did not have the cohesion to withstand the losses an industrial society was prepared to accept as the cost of doing business. Incredible personal courage, like that routinely exhibited by the Cheyenne Dog Soldiers was simply no match for modern firearms and men who approached war as an engineering problem rather than as a contest of heroes.
I suppose some in 1876 would argue as some do today that we are not engaged in a clash of civilizations. I have pondered this for some five years now and have concluded, sadly, that we are indeed engaged in such a clash. Just as a tribal society which viewed warfare as a rite of manhood and theft of livestock a game could not coexist with farmers, ranchers, and miners, so, too, it is difficult to conceive of a world in which civilization as it is recognized in industrialized, First World, if you will, societies can coexist with a civilization which abhors its basic philosophy.
But even while we are at war we should take a brief moment an remember those young men, on both sides, who struggled for the supremacy of their way of life under the blazing Montana sun 130 years ago.
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