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The Battle of Rosebud Creek» Forums » Rules

Subject: Little Bighorn/Rosebud Scenarios rss

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Mike Taylor
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I am looking at adding two "what-if" scenarios to Little Bighorn. These would assume that Crook did not quite the field and continued to pursue the Indians. To play these scenarios you would have to own both Little Bighorn and Rosebud.

Scenario 1 would assume he paused to reorganize his forces, resupply, and evacuate his wounded. He then immediately headed north (at a cautious but steady pace) and found the village before Custer did. So for this scenario you would substitute Custer's column with Crook's reduced column.

Scenario 2 is the same as above, but he moved much slower, and therefore linked up with Custer near Davis Creek. In this scenario you add Crook's reduced column to Custer's. You may also add Grasshopper Jim's forces as an option.

Not sure about a third scenario, but if people are interested I could look into adding this" Crook arrives one day ahead of Custer (24th). At dawn on the second day the Custer (entire regiment) arrives and enters as a reinforcement. In this scenario Crook goes it alone for a day, then gets help on the second day.

Crook's reduced force would be: Remove one pack train (with ammo), two infantry companies, Major Chambers, and four scout units. Apply 6 casualty points (total) to any remaining cavalry and infantry companies (only). A maximum of 1 strength point loss may be given to any company. Losses are not applied to miners or scouts.


Let me know if this sounds interesting. If people like it I can add it to the rulebooks and re-post them.
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Pete Belli
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Interesting.

If the column under Crook was not halted at the Rosebud then the village would have moved away from the location of the Custer battlefield.

It would not have moved in the direction of Crook's advance.

Custer was already following the trail of that tribal gathering, so the village would not have moved in the direction of Custer's advance.

The village might have moved in the direction of Gibbon and Terry; that is the most likely alternate scenario if Crook moves forward.

The two scenarios based on the "Crook meets Custer" narrative (or whatever) is pure fiction, but it might be fun.
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Mike Taylor
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Pete,

At the time of the Rosebud battle the village was not on the Little Bighorn. I have to look it up but I am pretty sure it was at the "Lone Tepee" location. I think tepee was also the burial for a warrior killed at the Rosebud battle.

In this scenario the village has already moved north to the Little Bighorn site. If Crook's movement would have been discovered at that point then yes, it would have either moved north, prepared to move north, and/or the warriors would have returned to fight Crook.

The scenario assumes there was a long pause to refit, and as with Custer, Crook was not discovered until he was already near the Little Bighorn camp. Two companies of infantry, plus lots of wagons, are observed moving south, and so the Indians could have assumed Crook was leaving the field and retiring, therefore they returned to their village.

Since we do not have a third map to cover a possible battle to the south this is the best I can come up with. Yes, it is of course total fiction, but some people have asked or commented about a possible link for the two games, so this would be it.
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Pete Belli
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Yes, the tribal village was near Reno Creek at the time of the Rosebud battle.

In 1876 the tribal warriors assumed (with good reason) that Crook was not advancing. The tribes had no organized system of scouts or reconnaissance patrols so when the cavalry first appeared at the Little Bighorn village many of the Indians thought the men of the Gallant Seventh were the same troops they had faced at the Rosebud.

If Crook had continued to advance he might have stolen a march on the Indians. However, if there was even a suspicion of an approach by Crook that village would have moved away. Whether the tribal warriors would have launched another attack on Crook as he moved north or withdrawn to protect the traveling non-combatants in the relocating village is a puzzle.

So... unless a victorious Crook moves north (after somehow lulling the tribes into lethargy) without encountering one hunting party or one group of wandering Indians in the approximately 30 mile gap between the Rosebud and the Little Bighorn battlefield then the village will be on the move before the historical timing of the Custer battle.

Fascinating topic.

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Mike Taylor
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The general belief is that Crook suffered a low number of casualties, but consumed a large amount of ammunition. The ammunition situation, as well as Crook's concerns about rations and wounded, forced him to return to his base camp at Goose Creek.

But there is much conflicting information. Numbers of warriors, and casualties suffered by both sides, differ greatly. Indian casualties varied from 10 dead and many wounded, to 39 dead and 63 wounded. Some accounts only say a couple dead. Soldiers counted 150 dead ponies on the field.

Estimates of warriors present were also hard to determine, with number ranging from 90, 600, and finally up to 1,500! To me the 600-1500 range is likely more realistic.

Finally, for such a major engagement the after action reports filed by the officers were all very short and lacking detail. They reported US casualties from 10 dead/21 wounded to 57 killed and wounded. Some historians put the numbers at 9 dead/53 wounded. However, the scout Grouard stated that Crook lost more than 100 men.

Regarding ammunition, correspondent Finerty reported ammunition expenditure at 25,000 rounds, while another published figure has it at 10,000 rounds. Noyes' battalion consumed about 12 rounds per soldier, but Royall and the infantry probably fired the most. But overall it appears that ammo expenditure was around 10-20%; not that excessive and certainly not critically low.

So why give up the expedition? He did lose his Indian allies, but some scouts remained. Ammunition does not seem to be critically low. Many cite his concern for his wounded, but he only reported 21 wounded. Yes, these 21 took two companies of infantry with them to Ft Fetterman, but does this really justify halting the entire column? Or was it the unexpected size and ferocity of the Indian opposition the real reason? Did that unnerve the command? Of course that would never be the official reason, but do the conditions and numbers reported really justify leaving the field? I'm not so sure.

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Pete Belli
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Quote:
Or was it the unexpected size and ferocity of the Indian opposition the real reason?


A valid theory.

Using the existing Little Bighorn map...

Assume that Crook does not encounter the Indians at the Rosebud.

He would be a few days ahead of Custer.

Scouts report a tribal village along the Little Bighorn River. Crook sends the cavalry ahead and there is a battle or a skirmish. The village could have a different configuration. The number of warriors might change. The village could even been in the middle of a routine movement when Crook approaches. So many options!

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Mike Taylor
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On the 18th Crook did withdraw to a supply base at Camp Cloud Peak, arriving midday on the 19th. It was here that he and his officers wrote their reports. What is noteworthy is that Crook himself wrote that he felt the Indian force was strong enough to "throughly defeat his entire command". This was what was on his mind, at least from the end of the battle to that day. If he believed that could happen with a full strength command, then why would he want to continue the march with a reduced command? I believe that this alone could have been the real reason.

But the scenarios assume that this was not his mindset. His temporary withdraw, along with the pause at the supply base, would account for the time gap. Custer's approach, although discovered, did not trigger a warning to the camp. The scenario also assumes that this would also be the case with Crook, since his approach is from the same general direction, and eventually across the same ground.

For the game, the big question is whether you want Crook to attack alone, assume that he is only a day ahead of Custer, or by luck they both meet prior to crossing the divide. Since it is fiction and what-if, I guess the answer is that we can do all of them! Why not.
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Mike Taylor
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Yes, that is another possibility. Just take the Rosebud US order of battle and swap it out with Custer's command. You can either use the Indian OB that is in LBH or substitute the Rosebud Indian force, but using the villagers and camps from LBH. What I don't know is exactly how large the village was at that time. Indians were still arriving just before Custer arrived. That would be rather difficult to track down. I am not sure that info is out there or if it is even known.
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Ruben Rigillo
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Mike and Pete,
Very interesting conversation!
Thanks!!!
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Pete Belli
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While there is a natural inclination to create a "campaign game" by linking the two engagements the historical situation makes that narrative less likely than it might appear at first glance.

If the forces of Crook, Custer, and Terry had united before the fighting along the Little Bighorn the real battle would have been between the army officers. Brigadier General Terry outranked Brigadier General Crook but each column was actually operating in a different military department under the overall command of Sheridan. Of course, Custer was jealous of his authority as field commander of the 7th Cavalry. Each man would be seeking an opportunity for glory and fame, even if that came at the expense of his fellow officers.

Remember that Crook had been jumped directly from Lieutenant Colonel to Brigadier General over the heads of any number of unhappy colonels after he gained attention as an "Indian fighter" in the southwest. Custer hoped to repeat this maneuver with a superior performance during the Centennial Campaign.
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Mike Taylor
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The personalities involved would certainly make it "interesting"! Lots of egos here.

From the positioning of the columns I seriously doubt we would have seen a combined Terry/Crook column prior to any contact. It could have been possible to have all three columns attacking or in contact at the same time. I would have to look it up in some books, but I am assuming that Sheridan had worked out the chain of command before the campaign started, and I think Terry would have been in overall field command.

However, it is certainly possible that Crook and Custer could have combined, had Crook continued north. And in such a case Crook would clearly be in command of such a force. By sheer force of personality Custer would make Crook act more aggressively. I doubt he would want to have his Indian fighter reputation tarnished by being overshadowed by Custer's aggressive and flamboyant style.

I think having Custer operate independently is one way to use him effectively while also removing his presence from the more conservative Terry and Gibbon. Their personality contrast would be very apparent during staff meetings and officers call, with the risk of looking timid and apprehensive when compared to Custer. This is probably not an issue during times when there is no Indian contact, as during the march along the Yellowstone, but would become an potential problem once contact is imminent or made, and the excitement level rises.
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Mike Taylor
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For those looking at a map here are some locations that may help.

During the Rosebud fight the Indian Village was located on Reno Creek. You may see some books or articles/websites show it as Ash Creek. there are other names for the same creek, but these are the two most common.

Crook's Goose Creek Depot is just north of Sheridan, Wyoming, and I believe it was where the creek meets the Tongue River (or close by).

Ft Fetterman is about 11 miles northwest of Douglas, Wyoming, close to where route 93 crosses the N. Platte River.
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Mike Taylor
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I have just finished modifying the Rosebud rules to account for the Pack train, and also the what-if scenario for crook at the Little Bighorn. I am going to go over it one more time tonight (I like to walk away,then look at it later with fresh eyes). I have also included a variable entry for Crook at Little Bighorn.

Fair warning, I have not played these yet, so I cannot say if they will work well or not. I think they will but one never knows until it is well tested.


Just a note from my post above, the Goose Creek Depot appears to have been right where Sheridan is now, not north of the city. Originally Crook set up camp near the Tongue, but he did move from there after the Indian horse raid. Apparently there was an island in Goose Creek, and that is where the wagons were placed.

The wagons had 300,000 rounds of rifle and carbine ammo (amount of pistol ammo unknown). So they would have about 1.5 reloads available had the wagons accompanied them. Estimates of ammo expenditure was from 10,000 to 25,000, so not critical if the wagons were available, and only 10-12.5% without them. Again, not critical levels.

The other funny thing is that how many people have read about Crook's soldiers experiencing problems with the Springfield Trapdoor system and the copper cartridges jamming? Maybe it is out there, I don't know, but it seems that for some reason it was only a problem for Custer and his men. Interesting.
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Mike Taylor
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I have posted the Rosebud v1.3 Rulebook, but am waiting for BGG admin to approve. It is already uploaded over in CSW:

http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX/.1dd50f3c/1233
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