Sunday, 23 April 2017

They Won’t Fight!

As GA Custer headed out for the Little Big Horn his main concern was that the Indians would scatter before he could attack them.  Today, we know he got that wrong, fatally in fact.  Yet Custer was far from the only one to hold to the view that the Lakota and pals were not up for it.

From what I can glean for the Plains People war, in terms of technique, was basically an extension of hunting.  Hence the famous and mesmerising Comanche encirclement. 

The aim was to coral the enemy at a disadvantage and then kill him as efficiently as possible while avoiding any casualties for the home side.  That isn’t to say that individual Indians did not engage in heroics, they often did but it was in terms of raising their own status within the band and they intended to survive to enjoy it.  Also, we should recall that the Indians did not have unlimited manpower, for them every death was bitterly mourned for entirely practical as well as emotional reasons.

All of which meant that the Americans were often confused by Indian martial conduct-why have they scarpered, they nearly had us running? Plains warfare was often indecisive because the Indians felt their objective conditions for victory were not in place.  Of course, when those conditions were met resolution was swift and bloody.

As I retouch the paintwork on my ‘Tribal Cavalry Sharp Shooter- 10 figures’ I wonder if TMWWBK will give us any of that flavour.

I’m also thinking about the very real influence on group behaviour if a prominent warrior had an inspiring dream.  Currently I'm awaiting four more troopers from QRF to complete my US Cavalry force.  I could use substitutes I suppose.  Anyhow game on soon.


  1. The old rules set Yellow Ribbon is the closest I have seen to getting the Indians right in that they won't behave like the white troopers.
    They also keep track of ammo and dismounting then using horseholders, both were key elements of warfare at that time. Mounted troops shouldn't shoot well at all, cavalry doctrine dictated you dismounted and used your carbines in skirmish lines. The 7th Cavalry didn't even take sabers along on campaign.

  2. I think that is right. As it happens as a consequence of playing Yellow Ribbon I have duplicate dismounted figures for both sides. They need a bit of a paint touch up.