“There are not enough Indians in the world to defeat the Seventh Cavalry.”
Yeah. Good old George, my fellow West Point alumni, last in the class of 1861 (there were only 34 graduates that year, but still).
What is our fascination with Last Stands?
The thing is, it should have never gotten to that. FREE today, is my short non-fiction title, Little Big Horn: Leadership Failure. It examines Custer from his time at West Point until his demise on Lakota Victory Day at the Battle of the Greasy Grass River (history belongs to the winners, at least for the battle.)
I have a theory, from walking the terrain and studying many books, reports, etc about the battle, that Custer was wounded when he tried leading his column across the river toward the encampment. And, because he had several family members in his command, things fell apart fast. Also remember, that while the Native Americans had rifles, they also had bows and arrows, and in that terrain (you really have to go there to understand; it was the first trip my wife and I ever took together and that tells you a lot about the two of us!) indirect fire was much more effective than direct fire from rifles. Plus, the rifles the 7th Cav had were, well, made by the lowest bidder, as we always groused about in the Army.
Custer followed an interesting path to disaster, with both successes and failures along the way. Studying his path, we can see warning signs for leaders in all occupations. Where various character traits, some of which we want in leaders, have the potential for disaster. The book examines the six Cascade Events leading to the seventh event, the Disaster.
Custer story is Shit Doesn’t Just Happen I: The Gift of Failure along with Titanic, Kegworth, New London Schoolhouse, the Tulip bubble, Apollo 13, and my favorite: The Donner Party. That’s Donner Party, not Dinner Party. Okay, that was bad.
By studying these catastrophes and the six Cascade Events, we find that of the six precursors, one, if not more, are human error. Thus most catastrophes can be avoided.
Perhaps I’m paranoid (although black helicopters do hover over my house and Cool Gus sometimes looks at me with more than just dog cunning, there’s something else there, in the depths of his eyes, something that could be malevolent, could be– well, during the brief moments when his eyes are open, that is).
Anywho. Custer. Interesting dude. Dead dude.
BTW, my first assignment in the Army was in the First Cav Division where they still have the 7th Cav. I always liked when someone in the Cav would proclaim: “If you aint Cav, you aint Shit!” And I’d think: Well, yeah.
Originally published at writeitforward.wordpress.com on February 1, 2016.