Revisiting the Battle of the Little Big Horn
Burns, Matthew J.
McCormick, Gordon H.
Mansager, Bard K.
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The Battle of the Little Big Horn has captured the interest of historians, scholars, and military enthusiasts since the day that over 200 United States soldiers under General George Armstrong Custer's command were decimated by Crazy Horse and 2000 Indian warriors. Competing theories regarding the details of the battle have arisen, mostly due to conflicting first hand accounts. The purpose of this thesis is twofold. The first purpose is to perform an historical analysis of the Battle of the Little Big Horn, using war-gaming. A series of controlled, comparative simulations of the battle will be carried out using the Synchronization Matrix, a war-gaming tool obtained from U.S. Army Field Manual (FM) 101-5. This analysis will evaluate three competing theories and interpretations of the battle, with the objective of categorizing the theories by degree of plausibility. The second purpose is to examine the impact of alternative notional leadership decisions on the outcome of the battle, e.g. what if Custer had not split his force? The result is a confirmation that war-gaming can indeed be utilized for the study of historical combat, as well as for future planning.
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