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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

7th Cavalry

This faction for Dead Man's Hand was inspired by the US 7th Cavalry Regiment.  The 7th Cavalry was formed in 1866 and nicknamed "Garryowen" on account of the Irish ditty they adopted as a marching tune. These fellows are mostly carbine armed, leading to a very different style of play in the game. Their gang rule and cards reflect their disciplined and drilled character.  

With a common color scheme leveraged over 6 of the 7 figures, painting was fast and pleasant. The bright yellow popped quite nicely on the blue and I'm pleased with how the guide turned out.  

The 7th is famous for fighting at the Battle of Little Bighorn where 5 of their 12 companies were wiped out. Battlefield archaeology suggests that Custer split his force of 210 cavalry troopers on that fateful day, with his right wing assembling on Calhoun Hill.   

The troopers' Springfield carbine was superior to anything the Indians could field.  The Springfield had a range of 600-700 yards, stopping power and accuracy. To even the fight, the Indians needed to close within 200 yards, the effective range of their repeater rifles.  Archaeological evidence suggests the troopers lost Calhoun Hill due to tactical disintegration and a failure to concentrate their long range firepower.  The Indians were able to close within 200 yards and employ their repeating rifles to good effect.  The troopers bunched up and then panicked.  Indian accounts describe the the troopers' flight from Calhoun Hill to Last Stand Hill as a buffalo stampede. Of the 120 men deployed on the hill, only 20 made it to Custer's position.  

Greatly depleted, Custer was limited to defensive action from this point forward.  Evidence confirms that the Indians put the captured Springfields to use against the troopers on Last Stand Hill.  Indian accounts report that 40 men rushed south off the hill but none made it off the battlefield.  

The archaeological evidence does not support the myth of a heroic last stand on Last Stand Hill.  Few Springfield cartridge cases have been found on the hill.  It appears the final struggle was brief and that 28 troopers made a break from the hill and fled into Deep Ravine. They were quickly overwhelmed and dispatched.  

I'll close with the account of Captain Frederick Benteen, recalling his observations on the Custer Battlefield, June 27, 1876:

"I went over the battlefield carefully with a view to determine how the battle was fought. I arrived at the conclusion that it was a rout, a panic, until the last man was killed. There was no line formed on the battlefield. You can take a handful of corn and scatter the kernels over the floor, and make just such lines. The only approach to a line was where 5 or 6 dead horses found at equal distances, like skirmishers. That was the only approach to a line on the field. There were more than 20 killed [in one group]; there were [more often] four or five at one place, all within a space of 20 to 30 yards of each other…I counted 70 dead cavalry horses and 2 Indian ponies.

I think, in all probability, that the men turned their horses loose without any orders to do so. Many orders might have been given, but few obeyed. I think that they were panic stricken; it was a rout, as I said before.