In order to answer the question, to what extent was Custer to blame for the defeat of the 7th cavalry; two different viewpoints need to be taken into consideration. On one hand Custer was against a great leader, on the other hand, he could be accused of making somewhat suicidal charges. In this essay, I will take both of these viewpoints into consideration. Firstly, I will look at the reasons why Custer may not be to blame for the defeat of the 7th Cavalry in 1876. Custer was against a brilliant war leader and tactician, Crazy Horse.
As well as, Sitting Bull, a holy man who had been able to unite the Sioux more than anyone else before him. Custer may have underestimated these two men, which ultimately led to his defeat. The Indian village in Little Bighorn was bigger than it had been seen before, with over 7000 people and 2000 warriors. Insufficient information about this could also be to blame for the defeat. Thirdly, the other two army forces failed to get to the battle, Crook’s forces had been defeated, and had retreated, while Gibbon was marching on foot.
This shows that lack of resources could have been to blame for the defeat. I will now look at the possible reasons for Custer to be to blame for the defeat. Custer had orders to wait for Gibbon’s force before attacking, but instead force-marched his men in order to attack on his own, because he wanted all of the glory. His men were exhausted when they attacked. Custer had always been headstrong and had made his reputation in the civil war by making crazy ‘brave’ charges, putting his own men in danger.
He had graduated bottom of his class at officer school. Custer ignored the advice of his scouts, who said the village was too big to attack. They pointed out that they didn’t even have enough bullets to kill of the Indians! This proves that Custer had sufficient reason not to attack the village, but did so anyway, leading his men to almost certain death. Custer did not scout the ground properly, and had to avoid some quicksand he had not known about. Custer split his men and failed to support Reno and Benteen when their first attack failed.
This was because he had changed his plans (without telling them) to circle around the Indians. Overall, after taking all of the points into consideration, I think that Custer was to blame for the defeat of the 7th cavalry. I think this mainly because Custer failed to take the scouts reports into consideration and because he didn’t wait for support from Gibbon’s force. I believe that if Custer had waited for Gibbons force then the battle of Little Big Horn could have been a lot different.