Interesting how the two timelines are very similar and how close the times for major event points line up. The biggest thing missed all the way up to the 25th is the fact that the trail is of one big village, not several smaller villages traveling the same route. This fact, if interpreted correctly, would give Custer a much better estimate of the hostile force he will go up against and maybe alter how he did things from the divide on.
I am not so sure that the fact that it was a large agglomeration could be ascertained by the trail alone, or that it was indeed relevant. I don't believe Custer or anyone else was under the impression that what they were following was not large. I think they had sufficient data to conclude that the size of the warrior force was at or in excess of 1500, so they knew that in total they were outnumbered two and a half to three to one from the outset.
Where I find the trail irrelevant is that you do not fight trails. You fight occupied positions, in other words arrayed configurations of the whole agglomeration.
Unless you have knowledge of that arrayed configuration you are whistling Dixie on Broadway. The trail gives you approximate size, what it does not give you is configured array. That requires further and close reconnaissance/
Had those tribal circles been separated by as little as five hundred meters, and as I understand it separation was norm, and LBH the exception to that norm, Custer would have been in a position to apply mass or maneuver against any one of them, with near impunity.
It is entirely possible that following what was thought to be norm, Custer went north knowing there was a big village (his words through Cooke) in the south, and he just may have been looking for that anticipated separation of tribal circles, thus ripe fruit, up north. Just one possible reason of many of course, but as Montrose constantly reminds us the time for looking was long past.
Last Edit: Mar 4, 2015 11:41:53 GMT -5 by quincannon
AZ: I believe of the two I would rather go with Fred's methodology in that while imperfect, and dependent upon presumably imperfect reportage, it seems the Gray method assumes all too much, facts not in evidence if you will. It reminds one of the we always did it that way syndrome, and fails to consider the unknown and unknowable circumstance.
I think what it shows is that if your in a march mode than the rate of travel matches with both timelines. I think Gray continued to use those march rates and Fred continues to use time accounts.
Agreed AZ, and that is why Fred's actually works better. I have a question here, at what point did Custer decide to call off the Tullock's scout and tell Herendeen his return to Terry was a no go? Custer brought up that scout in the AM, Herendeen said it was too soon for that scout. I don't think he(Custer) ever discussed it again. Sometime during this day he had decided that this was going to be his show, his alone. What was the tipping point?
I think that Custer got so distracted looking for signs that the NA were starting to break up, he didn't want to let go of Herendeen as a scout. Of course that is just a guess. It could be Custer didn't feel like answering Herendeen at the moment when Herendeen pointed out the point he needed to leave and Herendeen decided not to push things because he thought it would be more interesting with Custer, or any other number of thoughts.
The point I have noticed is that Custer was so concern about the village breaking up, from the sounds of it he missed that may be getting larger.
The thing I noticed about Gray's timeline is that he sometimes uses local time and sometimes HQ, especially at what time they made camp. Gray's timeline makes it look like they marched an hour less and got an hour more rest.