Post by benteen on May 1, 2016 14:33:21 GMT -5
I'm not convinced that all the command was well-trained and disciplined. The more I read, the more I see a body of men with very mixed levels of combat experience with even greater variations in experience in fighting native Americans in large numbers. The command (once in action) may well have wanted to advance, retreat, manoeuvre and fight in an organised way but there were simply not enough trained men below them to understand, have confidence in, and above all trust implicitly, the orders demanded of them. It's apparent not only in the valley but also on the Hills later in the action.
On the government side the only place where combat trust begins to appear (and is able to be related to future generations) is on Reno Hill where generally both officers and men make clear in their accounts that Benteen was an officer that they could trust. But by that point the command had passed the fear and panic stages of combat stress and had settled down to a survival level of stability. If the native Americans had infiltrated the hill defence sufficiently the cycle may well have broken down again.
From the troopers (and some officers') perspective, there was no obvious escape route from the hill and therefore better to stay put. That was certainly not the case in the valley.
In keeping with your thoughts, the following Fact #533 from the book.
The 7th Cavalry was considered one of the better Indian fighting units on the plains, and yet, at the RCOI in 1879, Lt George D Wallace ( Co G part of Renos attack force in the valley fight) said " Many of the men had never been on a horse until that campaign, and they lost control of their horses when galloping into line"