British Custeriana Series
Army Failures Against The Sioux in 1876:
by Francis B. Taunton
The second of the series is Francis
Tauntonís concise examination of the U.S. Armyís failings in the 1876
Sioux Campaign which was first published in April 1963. Yet despite the
fact that many worthwhile books have been written since then, very few,
with the exception of John Grayís Centennial Campaign: The Sioux War
of 1876 first published in 1976, Wayne M. Sarf's The Little
Bighorn Campaign March Ė September 1876, first published 1993 and
Peter Panzeri's Little Big Horn 1876 - Custer's Last Stand
Number 39 in the Osprey Military Campaign Series, have attempted to examine in any detail the complete
campaign. Most writers have tended to concentrate on the events
immediately before and after the defeat of Custerís 7th Cavalry on the
Little Big Horn. Others have dealt with it as part of a general theme on
the history of the white manís contact with the Native American Indian
and the many wars that followed.
In Tauntonís examination is an attempt to set the events in context and he argues that war in 1876 had been inevitable ever since Red Cloudís war of 1866 had helped to persuade the U.S. Government to ultimately abandon the forts along the Bozeman Trail and attempt to negotiate a treaty. There were numerous factors, which all contributed to the U.S. Armyís failing during the initial stages of the 1876 campaign and Taunton eloquently makes these points. The militaryís eventual defeat of the hostiles was inevitable but owed much to luck and the fact that it was impossible for the tribes to remain concentrated due to the scarcity of game. The latter fact meant that they could only survive by breaking up into smaller groups, particularly with the onset of winter. Yet out of these adversities both Sherman and Sheridan were able to put in place the institutions that would make the U.S. Army a more professional body although it would not be until the beginning of the 20th Century that the changes that began after 1876 were to bear fruit.
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LAST UPDATED 29 MAY 2012