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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.

36 comments:

  1. Great work, Monty, and yet another Old West legend freighted with moral ambiguity.

    Was Custer a skilled cavalry commander or was he a vainglorious fool whose greatest gift was for self-publicity? Or was he both?

    Whatever history's verdict, these are really nice figures with a finish to match!

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    1. That is a tough one Evan. He did brilliant things in the ACW but this is what people remember him by.

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  2. People don't like truth getting in the way of a good story. Nice figs, Monty, hopefully they'll perform better for you than their namesake!

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    1. Thanks Marcus! Like most of us, I just want to know the truth of a thing. A slippery thing, that search for the truth.

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  3. Lovely figures Monty and thanks for the history.

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    1. Thanks Tamsin! I loved your Roaring 20s project. I do hope there is an AAR down the line.

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  4. They look wonderful Monty, but I now have an urge to watch westerns all afternoon!

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    1. Me too. Just this weekend, I finally started watch the Deadwood series by HBO and I'm hooked. Calamity Jane is THE BEST!

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  5. Love these guys, a legend even if France...excellent work!

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  6. Fantastic brushwork and the yellow against blue really pops. Good synopsis on the LBH battle. Still much controversy over what exactly transpired. As FMB noted above, don't let the truth get in the way of a good story and legend-building. Spin-doctors were hard at work on this one!

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    1. Agree, and I mean no disrespect in reciting this. Dan Carlin did a show on the Mongols this spring and one of the stories was how the Mongols "herded" their defeated enemies. They'd surround you on all sides and then open up a hole. Just like wildlife drives, humans in flight will make for that hole...and get slaughtered.

      As I read the Indian accounts, I thought that the end of the troopers might have looked like the end of the Hungarians put to flight by the Mongols.

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  7. Wonderful colors on these cool figs. They look perfect for skirmish. Love the buckskins.

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    1. Thanks Dean. With this Old West painting, I now have a recipe for buckskin!

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  8. These turned out very well. Love those blues and the guide in buckskin is terrific (he's my favourite).

    The history was good too. It's interesting that in 1876 the truth was known, but that truth changed with time. We are told that if we don't learn our history, we are doomed to repeat it. That is true, unless history has been revised.

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    1. Thanks Anne, mine too!

      So true. I heard it once said that the lesson of Vietnam was that we have to stay with it longer. !!! You can't learn from history if you refuse to see the plain facts in front of you.

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  9. Nicely done, Monty. I especially like the way you've lined the yellow piping on the trousers with black, it really makes it stand out. I love these figures.
    I had the good fortune to do a staff ride at the LBH two summers ago, on real horses. We followed Custer's route towards the Sioux encampment and it was clear from the terrain how it would have been impossible for Custer to have realized the enemy numbers until it was too late to escape. It was only the fact that he detached Reno and Benteen's commands that allowed the latter to escape destruction with their boss.

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    1. Good eye, I did take 3 coats to build that up. It was a PITA, but I think it now pops nicely.

      There is nothing quite like walking (or riding) a battlefield to bring it all home. I have to do it with this one some day.

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  10. Great painting Monty! did you know George A Custer bluff/lied to enter West point, he amassed a record-total of 726 demerits, graduated bottom of his class, made a charismatic cavalry charge at Gettysburg and was killed at Battle of Little Bighorn....amazing :o)

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    1. That is a LOT of demerits. Being an ACW buff, I did love reading of his service and heroics there. The Indian Wars are a painful and whole other topic.

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  11. Wonderful Brushwork as usual Monty! I've always found Custer to be fascinating character since I was a kid and find him to be both intelligent and imbecilic, brave and wantonly murderous, loyal and selfish, but above all massively egoistical with a real genius for publicity and show.

    Christopher

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    1. I think you've summed him up as well as anyone could. Well done, Christopher!

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  12. Lovely figures. The Battle of the Little Big Horn, is one of those events in history which still fascinates.

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    1. Mark, thanks! I haven't read on it for many, many years so I found the archaeological study of the battle to be fascinating.

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  13. Again they are real eyecandy! The yellow works great on the blue.

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  14. Wonderful brushwork Monty. Your blues are glorious!

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    1. Thanks Millsy! Now I'm ready for some ACW in 28mm painting. ;-)

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  15. Lovely clean paint job. I like it.

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  16. Nice and clean painting Monty! Those colours really work well together for a striking look.

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  17. Excellent paintjob and a good read about the historical facts.

    Cheers
    Stefan

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