Many account Iv read feel that Company E was wiped out in the Deep Ravine...yet when an article on National Gorgrpahic magazine came out about the recent archaelogy discovies I remember that In deep ravine they found evidence of just one soldier killed here [He was shot six times by different weopons]
So does Deep Ravine refer to Ravine proper only...or to the whole section around the ravine?
Incidently in the large LBH Book on Photographs of the Little Bighorn..there are two views from LAst Stand Hill..and off to the left vew s of Deep Ravine...yet the only bones visible are that of the cavalry mounts...
Question...if over 30 troopers were barely buried in Deep ravine...would there have been reports....of sightings of their conscicious remains?
ALso in the 1881 reburieal of Soldiers bones on last stand hill..is there any report of a great concentration of remains visible in Deep Ravine?
Of interest see the online this website transcription of Captain Sweet’s Battle Report, May 15, 1890
which he makes several claims...
that the last of the missing 29 men had been found and buried
That the remains of the missing men had been covered by the earth in Deep Ravine
That only horse skelations and a few human remains had been found..
Yet he also reports only about 13 men were killed in the ravine!
Deep Ravine is the whole drainage and even branches. I've started calling Deep Gully that portion of the Deep Ravine which states at the end of the Deep Ravine trail. The trail starts in Cemetery Ravine and crosses over to Deep Ravine and closer to the river is Deep Gully.
“ A Mounted Officer's first duty is to his horses.”
I will not be wronged, I will not be insulted and I won't be laid a hand upon.
I have a number of questions about the movement of E troop off LSH towards Deep ravine, the first being, was it a tactical move, and if so, what was it's purpose?
Given that their move proceeded that of those last poor souls who fled the hill when they saw that they had no alternative, and give that almost all the bodies that were identified --- 28 being a round figure ---- were members of E troop, it seems highly unlikely that this was just a spontaneous break for freedom.
If they were indeed ordered off the hill, then this raises several questions. Was it simply because there were already too many gathered in that area to be able to adequately defend it? Or was because there was a last minute plan to try and break out and cut their way through back towards Reno and Benteen, but, given that E troop had already lost their horses, that they couldn't be included in the plan? In other words, they would have been a hindrance, in the sense that the mounted men could only move at the pace of those who were on foot?
If this was true, then it would make some sense, for they couldn't have stayed behind on LSH whilst the others rode off, for they wouldn't have stood a chance. Better then that they moved off the hill as a tactical unit, and look for somewhere that could be better defended. But where would the be, the trees around the river, or the ravine?
Neither seems a very good bet to me, but then needs must. The river was a long way away for dismounted men to run to on a a very hot day with Indians all around them, and then when they got there, they would have had to ford it in order to get in amongst the tree cover, but then maybe they didn't know that at the time. As for the Ravine, well, again, I'm not a military man, but that would seem to make no sense at all, and in fact we see what happened to them when a number of them actually went down into it.
So, in many ways a hopeless task, but as I say, needs must. In which case, I have one last question. If it was a tactical move, then how would they have carried it out? Would they move forward with one platoon out front creating a fire field, and then dropping back to re-load whilst the other platoon took their place to fire in their turn? Like I say, I'm no military man, so I'm curious as to what the tactics might have been.
Hello David. If it was a planned move, then who led those troopers, Smith was found on LSH with Custer, Sturgis could have led them and maybe even got as far as the river, as his body was not identified but his coat was found in the village.
You can take you choice with E Company, was it swept of cemetery ridge by the Suicide Boys? Or did it move onto LSH. If it is true about the Suicide Boys breaking the Grey Horse Troop, then at least 30 of them made it to LSH, 30 out of 38 does not sound like a rout to me and most of the missing numbers could have been horse holders. So how do you see it, did the Suicide Boys just kill the horse holders and the main body of the company made it to LSH, or did they get chased off to deep ravine [or some other ravine] ad it was this move which the Indians refer too? Maybe we have two movements, with E being forced into a ravine, and later another group trying to reach them.
Yan, like most posters, I've read so many theories and books by now I can hardly hold it all in my head, but I was working on something I'd read a while back which said that given that Wolf Tooth and his band had returned to LSH and were sniping at Custer's command, which was presently on Cemetery ridge, it was decided to drive them off. Now in order to do this, E troop was ordered to dismount and move up on foot in order to do the job. Why they needed to do it that way rather than mounted is beyond me, but let's say they did, and it was supposed to be that during this movement,the so called suicide boys grabbed the opportunity to run off their horses. Which obviously left them dismounted.
Now, whichever way you look at it, this was disastrous. For it meant that even if things went well, and Custer was able to resume offensive and cross the river, they would obviously have real difficulty in keeping up with him; this would also mean that Custer would lose more than a third of his force, and then if the opposite was true, and a move was made to try and re-join the rest of the command, then they would be in the same position.
I'm not saying that this is how it happened, you maybe right, maybe they were driven off Cemetery ridge and down into Deep Ravine, but if so, how come the men of F company managed to avoid ending up there, or indeed any of Custer's immediate circle?
As to the question of who may have led them, well as I said, needs must, and so if Smith was out of the picture, then yes, Sturgis would do, or indeed anyone else who could command them.
I suppose it's all a matter of timing, for by the time that most of the command was gathered up on LSH, plus those few others who managed to make it from the Calhoun end, time was getting very short indeed.
I'm presuming that the men that were found a little below LSH: between seven and eleven if I remember, were members of that last breakout attempt, an attempt that was quite different in nature to the move that E troop made. Off the top of my head, I can't remember if any of them were identified, but if so, it would be interesting to know what companies they were from. I know that Auntie Reed and Bosten were found and identified a little further North, but they too may have been part of that last breakout.
Post by Yan Taylor on Jan 29, 2020 15:26:26 GMT -6
The idea of E Company left to defend cemetery ridge could be down to them being a rear guard. So if we put to the back our of minds about Custer riding down MTC and crossing at Ford B for a moment and try and visualize this crossing being made at Ford D, then it would make sense.
So imagine Custer taking his full weight to Ford D to cross north of the village. That would mean no Keogh and over 120 men wasted on a ridge line while Benteen and Reno fight the Indians in the valley plus Custer moving north with 80 troopers. I see Custer as a man who was so impatient and eager for pitching in, that the thought of him leaving these men on a ridge sounds wrong.
So imagen that all of this took place around Ford D, because it has similar land marks to Ford B, with a dry coulee [Crazy Horse Ravine, high ground [Battle Ridge Extensions] and river crossing [Ford D]. So then imagine that this crossing was fight to a stand still by Cheyenne firing from the benches and then taking the fight to the soldiers by crossing the riving in large numbers, this would mean that Custer was forced back to the high ground which in turn he leaves E Company as a rear guard whilst the rest of the battalion moves back in stages to the high ridges near MTC. The vanguard for this pull back was L Company which ran into trouble in deep coulee, C followed after and was smashed trying to extend the defensive line along FFR. Keogh was the last to move out and got chopped up on Battle Ridge.
Custer the HQ and F Company was supposed to be next in line but soon got fixed by warriors cutting them off from the south.
So really Custer leaving troops to wait for Benteen and the packs, seems wrong as Custer knew that the packs could not do the trek over bad land, anyway Custer’s men were fighting in the valley, so why would he stay out of the fight, leave some men on a ridge line and do a recce north, sounds silly to me.
David, The withdrawal Yan describes above makes good military sense. You withdraw in bounds, leaving a part of the force behind to cover the withdrawing units. Setting this scene at ford D makes very good sense when you realize Indians were coming not only from the ford D area, but also from deep ravine. E company was most likely left on Cemetery Ridge and F company on battle ridge extension to cover the withdrawal of L, C, and I.
Pressure from Indians on the front and in the gully that separates BRE from CR forced E company off toward deep ravine, and F was forced back to LSH. Indians from the east that had pressured L company and Indians coming up through deep ravine caught I company in transit. In effect, the pressure was too quick and too much for Custer to complete the withdrawal maneuver. He was, in effect, surrounded before he could execute the withdrawal.
As Yan pointed out, L and C ran into heavy pressure from deep coulee and Calhoun coulee, so they too were essentially surrounded. Game over.
Yan, your talking about a different theory, and whilst its one I have some difficulty with it, I suppose it's just possible that it's true. After all, we're all talking hypotheticals on these boards: stories if you like, and I'm afraid that although the archaeology can be a great help, in that it can show us that a number of shots were fired from here and there etc, but in the end, I'm not totally convinced that it can't tell us who held an individual weapon and when they fired it. Likewise the bodies. We know that most of E troop were found in and about Deep ravine, but as we have seen, we can't be sure how they got there.
However, to get back to your theory. For a start, it seems to me to fly in the face of most Indian testimony, be it oral or visual. Now I know I keep banging on about Standing Bear's art work, but the reason I do so is because I think its really important. For unlike plains Indian art of the time: which was on a much smaller scale and tended to show an individual warriors war exploits, the three works that he made were enormous in comparison, and even more importantly, he showed several elements of the Custer part of the battle which he, and others, thought to be the most impotent. I should say at this point that he had an audience watching him as he made the paintings, an audience composed of at least a dozen men who'd taken part in the battle, so as far as they were concerned, he'd better get things right.
The first thing to say is that for the most part, the action flows from South to North, the main exception being the attempted escape of four mounted men who are shown fleeing South being pursued by a number of warriors. Now with reference to what we're talking about, he also shows a number of men on foot, both running towards, and down in Deep ravine. They are running down towards the river from what would be LSH, and are being pursued by a number of warriors. As well as that, there are a number of other features which reinforce much of the oral testimony.We see the greys being run off for instance, and Yellow Nose sizing the guidon, and there are many more, but I won't go on, excepting to say that the flow of battle is up from the MTF area moving towards LSH.
Now I know that the ford D episode is a possibility, but there's almost no oral evidence of anything happening there other than some light skirmishing. Why then, you might argue, did Custer move back to Cemetery ridge when he could have crossed? I don't know the answer to that, no more than I can answer why he didn't cross at Ford B when there was so little resistance down there.
As far as I'm concerned, the only story we have about this part of the battle is the Indian one, and they mostly confirm what each other had to say.
If you read the various Indian accounts of the battle, you will notice that the Cheyenne’s say that they did fight the soldiers near or in the river, the Sioux on the other hand say that the soldiers never got to the river and they crossed over to do battle. Now why do you think that this is case, well because the majority of the Sioux were fighting Reno and when they returned, they saw the soldiers on the high ground. So, I tend to stick to what the Cheyenne’s say about any fighting at the ford.
Another thing about Indian accounts, these were mainly done through interpterion and with this we have many misinterpretations, mainly to do with locations and the fact that the Indians had different directions to points on the compass. So, if it comes through interpretation that the soldiers came from X direction and from the high ground through a dry coulee and crossed the river at X, then this could be either ford B and ford D as both locations had these terrain features.
JSIT, has the soldiers moving right across from Nye-Cartwright to Calhoun hill, then all the way north to the ford D area, not the ford B area, and he got this info from his relation, without the aid of translation and from the Indian who was in that area on the day.
Just try and visualize what Colt has said and match it to the JSIT map and things look clearer.
I don't think I'm going to let myself be drawn into an argument as to whether Custer skirmished at either ford B or the fords D, as we all tend to interpret evidence in our own way, and so in this regard, I tend to favour something happening close to Ford B, and you think that it probably occurred up at ford D.
What we can agree on is the problem we all have with Indian evidence coming down to us through the mouths of interpreters. Unfortunately there is nothing we can do about this, except to try and find certain points of agreement between diverse Indians as to where they were when they saw something that they can agree on, i.e. that the last of the fighting was either down in Deep Ravine, or up on LSH. By the way, I would still argue that the visual evidence is very important in this respect because it comes directly from an Indian perspective and has not been mediated through an interpreter
As to the names of landscape features, well, in many ways I think that this only compounded the problem. Firstly, most of the names that we're all familiar with: Calhoun hill, Luce and Nye Cartwright, Deep ravine, Deep coulee, I could go on, but you know what I mean, weren't in use when the first interviews were held, they only came later, and when they did, I should imagine that 99% of the Indians still had no idea what the questioners were talking about when they kept on asking what happened at Calhoun ridge for instance. It's not altogether clear how much of the landscape over which the battle was fought had been named by the Indians, but the very fact that I have to ask that question indicates that very few people bothered to enquire. Hence we have two different sides talking about particular areas that neither knew the names of, many of which didn't have enough distinguishing features to be able to describe.
As you to are an adherent to a North South flow of battle, I totally accept that E company may well have been the rear guard, and that F company might have held LSH, but where is Custer and his immediate clan in all this, are they leading this retreat, as I imagine they would, or are they hanging back with the rear guard? I can onlt assume they are, as if we can be sure of anything, we know that their bodies were found on LSH.
Post by Yan Taylor on Jan 31, 2020 10:04:49 GMT -6
David, if many of those accounts were done on the battlefield, then who knows what locations and directions we may have compared to what we have now. One of the problems could date from the early stories of the battle with these early enthusiasts taking the obvious locations and giving their opinions, which could tarnish any future view of the fight, some of these have been set in stone and any new views are not excepted.
I see you asked Colt about where Custer would be in any pull back, well I asked the same question myself not too long ago and the answer was that he was doing what a regimental commander would do and over seeing this operation. I remember when we were working on this theory and Mac, said he read an account of a company of soldiers heading back the way they came along battle ridge and leading the vanguard was a lone rider, who may have been Sgt Butler.
Last Edit: Jan 31, 2020 10:05:00 GMT -6 by Yan Taylor
Year before last I was on Cemetery Ridge with Will Hutchison and walked along it toward the river. We had rain that year so we went to Hardin Museum and used their conference room to lay out maps. If you follow one of the many theories the Gray horses moved to Last Stand Hill following the western corridor. That corridor corresponds with the present markers. I believe it was E&F plus Custer while C,I,L moved straight across MTC and up onto Luce.
Others believe it was E and C but Will doesn't believe that a command once formed would be separated.
So now look at one of the McGuire maps and you will see the movement from MTC to LSH and then a short line back down Deep Ravine. You can see that the first line crosses into Deep Ravine to the east of Deep Gully (that's what I call the deepest part of Deep Ravine). The short line starts in Cemetery Ravine just about where the outdoor theater is located. Then it crosses over into Deep Ravine staying on the north side of it. One of things Will and I notice is that majority of the markers don't appear in until you pass a line drawn from the edge of CR. There are only two markers downhill between the clump at LSH and the beginning of SSL that we could see.
Will discussed that if Custer was retrograding from the north that the rear guard action would have to hold CR and LSH with mutual support. With pursuing Cheyennes it would work but with time other Indian groups would close in.
Mike Donahue has photographs of kneeling infantry and they are facing two directions. In one they are facing Battle Ridge Extension (BRE) and the other Deep Ravine.
So our or my theory is that E was pushed off CR and could not move toward LSH. But they weren't running to get into the village. They were going toward the way they came. The problem is they didn't know about Deep Gully because the came over further south and east along the line on the McGuire map. Deep Gully was a surprise and where they end up being fixed and destroyed. There is a Standing Bear drawing in Big Horn Wyoming that shows this.
I have reached a point where it doesn't have to be the only theory but it works for me unless something factually contradicts it. They were not cowards or insanely running toward the village. They were simply attempting to retrograde the way they came. If I am right the markers around Deep Ravine may be from two events.
Last Edit: Feb 1, 2020 7:45:36 GMT -6 by AZ Ranger
“ A Mounted Officer's first duty is to his horses.”
I will not be wronged, I will not be insulted and I won't be laid a hand upon.
So, I am a fairly new guy on the forum. I hope I am posting this in the right place! In my only about 2 weeks study of the battle I have always been interested in the possibility of 28 soldiers bodies possibly not being found.
Anyway, long story so tried to make it short.
In the official record of the court of inquiry of 1879 on P 558 and 559 are maps made a couple of days after the battle. The map on P 558 seems to be to scale, the map on p 559 (of the markers) is not to scale. Found on this weblink-
On both maps there is a prominent topographic feature which is barely visible on google maps (satellite) today. However, the other topographic features on those maps (although probably not as deep today) can be easily discerned.
What I am referring to on both maps what is indicated as a ravine (maybe a “not so deep ravine”) or a coulee that can be seen pictured to the right of the “main coulee” which is running east to west alongside (to the right of) cemetery ridge, below Custer hill. The coulee I am referring to looks to be running from south to north (on the maps) at about a 90-degree angle into the main larger ravine or coulee.
On the map of Page 558 there is a spot marked “H”. That is the spot I am referring to. Also note on that map that the “H” stands for “many bodies found here”.
So, if I am on the burial detail and in a hurry (because there is still the possibility of hostiles in the area) I place the bodies (about 28 or so – which would take up a lot of the length of the coulee) in the coulee (or shallow type ravine) and cover them with dirt and move on.
Let’s say the burial detail puts about one to two feet of earth on top of the bodies. I know from previous reading about the burial detail that they took the dirt from the sides of the small ravine and buried the bodies. For whatever reason they put no markers on that site.
Well, how would that effect the topography and function of that ravine? I am not a geologist, so I am only guessing here! But I think covering those bodies with 2 feet of earth (over maybe a 100 foot or greater length in the coulee – figured that by maybe they put 2 bodies on top on one another – 6 ft average height- is 6 x 14- so 84 feet – let’s round up to 100 feet) would change the function of the small ravine (or coulee) from a drainage runoff into the lower coulee, to a “catch type” basin” in and of itself. Or maybe it is possible that the bodies were just randomly thrown into that ravine and covered with dirt, which would maybe create a "dam" type situation in the coulee which would prevent water runoff from that coulee (or small ravine) into the "cemetery ridge" coulee or ravine and thusly the ravine where the bodies may be buried was filled up (over about 50 or 60 years) with dirt and mud from water runoff and erosion?
Over the years the runoff of mud and dirt into that “now a small catch basin” would accumulate and build up to how it appears now, which is just a “bump” on google maps!
So, I could keep going. But I think the idea has now properly been suggested that those 28 soldiers could possibly be buried there. And if they are, it looks to me that they are probably buried about where the “deep ravine trail” that is there now goes over the area that used to be the coulee described above (but is now just a "bump" in the terrain). Maybe by now the soldiers may lie 6 to 8 feet below the surface?
Anyway, just exciting and fun to try and figure this stuff out! I mean maybe no one will ever know for sure what happened to those soldiers.
Last Edit: Jul 10, 2023 6:24:57 GMT -6 by lakotadan
I also like to use the 1891 USGS "Marshall" map - to see things closer to how they were.
QC pointed out that the bend in Deep Ravine alluded to by Camp re: McDougall - and likely the point you are talking about below H on Maguire, is...
"...if you are looking for a specific grid coordinate for the bend in Deep Ravine on Mike's enhanced map those coordinates are 48451035 or that vicinity depending upon exactly in the bend are he says he buried those folks. If you do not have anything but the USGS 1:24,000 the bend is where the O is in National, in the map marking Custer Battlefield National Monument. ... Finally, I get to agree with Camp on something."
Just as fun notes, Maquire was a take of Becker. Gillespie was a take on MaGuire. Other versions exist too, as the authors try to improve them. You can spend hours/days just trying to sort through specifics & differences, especially when the RCOI is taken into account! (i.e. try finding & understanding the I.C. square near the timber - that's fun too!)
So in the last map on your post with the enlarged area of where I think there is a possibility of soldiers buried does that say, "Co. E"? The enlarged area on the top right is too blurry for my "old" eyes, and I can't enlarge the map enough to get a good read of the writing. What year was that map made?
If that map does say "Co. E", then it is in the exact place that I described in my last post as "H" (many bodies found here) on the map of 1876.
Maybe things are starting to add up, or maybe not!
Last Edit: Jul 9, 2023 16:03:09 GMT -6 by lakotadan