By Charles D. Collins Jr., Combat Studies Institute (U.S.)
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Extra resources for Atlas of the Sioux Wars
His attack orders were inexact, but he did issue a general outline of his tactical plan (see map A). Captain James Egan’s company of Noyes’ battalion was to approach the village quietly and assault it on being detected. Meanwhile, Noyes and his remaining company would drive the Indian pony herd away from the village. On its part, Moore’s battalion was to dismount and move to the bluffs overlooking the village to support Egan’s assault. Mills was initially given no mission, but eventually Reynolds had him follow Moore to assist where practical.
Through driving snow and temperatures that ranged as low as 80 degrees below zero, scout Grouard literally felt his way along the trail that led to the Powder River. At about 0230 on 17 March, he halted the column until he could locate the Indian village. While the troops waited in the bitter cold, Grouard successfully pinpointed the Indians’ location. This was the grand opportunity to strike the Indians that US commanders had been awaiting. Reynolds formulated his plan of attack based on a misunderstanding of the actual location of the village.
At last, on 17 May, Terry’s overland column departed from Fort Abraham Lincoln. His force consisted of 12 companies of the 7th Cavalry Regiment under the command of Custer and 3½ companies of infantry. Terry’s column totaled 925 men. Through a misreading of intelligence, Terry expected to find the Indians along the Little Missouri River, far to the east of where they actually were. Discovering no Indians at the Little Missouri, he moved farther west, camping on Beaver Creek on 3 June. Here, Terry received a dispatch from Gibbon (dated 27 May) that vaguely referred to sightings of hostile Indians but gave no specific details and skeptically dealt with Bradley’s discovery only in a postscript.
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