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September 07, 2007

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Little Big Horn, With a Difference

This past May, I made my fifth trip to the battleground at Little Bighorn, and was once more impressed by what a raving incompetent LTC George Armstrong Custer was. Apologists for Custer often cite the fact that an appreciable number of the warriors who opposed him had repeating rifles, while the 7th Cavalry troopers were armed with single-shot Model 1873 Springfield carbines. To those folks, I have two words: Rorke's Drift.

I'm referring to a battle in the Zulu Wars, in which 119 British infantrymen took on an estimated 5,000 Zulu warriors over the course of one night in January, 1879. (The odds against Custer were roughly 2,000 to 568.) The soldiers of No. 1 company of the 24th Regiment of Foot were armed with the .450 Martini/Henry single-shot rifle, comparable in most ways to the Springfield.

The two British commanders were not exactly the cream of the crop. John Rouse Merriot Chard, the senior lieutenant, was an engineer officer, not an infantryman. Gonville Bromhead, the junior lieutenant, was an infantry officer, but so deaf he should not have been in the service, and was considered reasonably dim-witted to boot.

But unlike Custer, both men used common sense: They built barricades, hunkered down behind them, and let their highly disciplined soldiers let the good times roll. When it was all over, the Brits had suffered 17 killed and 10 wounded, while the Zulus had lost over 500 warriors, and it was probably much more than that. Custer's command, on the other hand, killed 60 warriors (maybe 100) and suffered 268 killed themselves.

Weaponry is important, sometimes even decisive. But in the end it's leadership that matters most. Too bad the 7th Cavalry didn't have any.


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Dr. Ralph

I'm taking the day off to pray for our troops and the demise of terrorism. The best defense is a good offense, occupied oil fields forever... remember the towers burning.

charlize theron

Let's develop some alternative fuel sources so we aren't dependent on Saudi Arabia and the rest of the ragheads for energy. Take away their money and you take away their power.

Dr. Ralph

Lets just use theirs first. We still have plenty in Alaska and that car that runs on cow shit is right around the corner.


That drilling in Alaska will destroy prime habitat for all wildlife means nothing to you then?

Dr. Ralph

ANWR area 10-02 holds 10 billion barrels of crude. It is a small area and all of the Middle East holds less than 700 billion barrels. Use theirs first is what I said. Destroying prime habitat for all wildlife by drilling is a lie... Alaskans are for HR 5890 the American Made Energy Act opening up area 10-02. They just don't want offshore drilling because of past errors.

Dr. Ralph

Click my name for the facts...

coach ike

dear charlize theron,
i agree with your raghead theory, come up with a different fuel source. since most homes in this country use electricity which is generated by engines of an oil basis, solar or wind power is clean, more readily available. now lets just say almost every home in america was to do this, well the need for oil would be cut in half. i know the united states generates enough oil to power our cars and heat our homes, we would not need oil from the middle east, lets face it, opec is responsible for the prices of gas being as high as they are, so screw them!! but our fearless leader would never approve such a bold move because him and his family have their hands in the cookie jar when it comes to the oil industry! and the only reason we went to war in iraq was because of the oil! if thats the case, why is gas after 5 years so high and bin laden still walking around as nothing happened?

Rocky Mtn Hunter

Good for you coach ike; Now let Dr.Ralph jump on your band-wagon as he did my thoughts in comparing Custer to W.Agree.W had 2 thoughts in mind if he was elected.One was to avenge the so-called threat on his Dad and to prove he could go to Iraq.2nd reason was the Oil. If W was to attack any country , should have been Saudia Rabia. Ben Liden been on the loose for 5 yrs now. We yet have no idea of where he is, so they say. I've expressed my thoughts on both Custer and W, so now I'm through with discussing either. Lastly, our great-grandchildren will be paying for this mess till they die. Just hope our next Pres and hopefully new congress can/will end this fight soon. I and the other US citizens cannot afford the price we are paying for this loosing battle. Not sure of any of thoe running for Pres can end peacefully. The Iraquis want us to stay and fight there Civil war, using our $$ rather than theirs. Hey, its great when some-one else pays our bills and fights for us.Now guns/Hunting can get back on tract.Hunting season is opening in several states and soon here, so much to discuss on that subject, I HOPE. Hey, any of you guys seen and bought the new Remington Model 715???Your thoughts if you have. Shoot often and straight.

Galen Gann

Why do you Journalist always bring up something like Lincoln,Custer, JFK, Princess Diane, or a M. Monroe conspiracy when you cannot think of anything good. Just let the past die a dignified death, please.
This is a gun blog not a history blog.

Ralph the Rifleman

Well said Galen...lets talk GUNS HERE!


When Custer divided his command and sent the two groups down to the Indian camp, don't forget what he was doing; a cavalary charge into a villiage makes no distinction between an aremed 25 eyar old man shotting back and a 3 year old child.....

Genocide, Custer and the people riding with him got what they deserved.

Dave Petzal

To Coach Ike, a gun voice crying in the wilderness of military history.

For me? A .270. With all due respect to the .308, the .270 has light recoil, flat trajectory, and the fact that most .270s shoot different bullet weights to the same point of impact to recommend it. I hate to make claims like this, but it really does seem to kill out of proportion to to its paper ballistics.

Every person to whom I've ever recommended it tells me later that I am a genius.

Mike Diehl

"Alaskans are for HR 5890 the American Made Energy Act opening up area 10-02."

If it created a lot of decent paying jobs and all the oil proceeds went to citizens of your state wouldn't you?

I oppose drilling in ANWR. In part because most of the areas drilled are Federal property bought and paid for by citizens of the lower 48. If there is revenue to be distributed from this drilling, it should go to the Federal gov't, or be apportioned among the states by population, rather than given to Alaskans.


If you are going to use Rorke's Drift as an example, you also need to at least mention Isandlwana, which was the battle immediately preceding Rorke's Drift. At Isandlwana 850 European and 450 African troops were killed. They too were using single shot rifles. What they have in common with Custer is they were caught out in the open, unlike the defenders at Rorke's Drift. Custer may have been an idiot, but using Rorke's Drift to prove it is not a valid argument.


Being a native american, ultimately, the white eyes won the war... let us have our victory before we uprise again. Note: the Seminoles have never signed a treaty...

Midnight Banjo

Hey all! Anyone else have a Rem 710? Mine's in the 30-06 and I guess I got one that was made on Wednesday, because it always shoots great for me. I read some really bad press on these a while back and just wondered if anyone else had the great luck with one as I have.

Shoot more - shoot more often!

Rocky Mtn Hunter

Midnight Banjo: Have seen, shot the 710 and did like the pattern it shot on 06. I understand the 715 which replaces the 710 is a up-grade of such. Have not been able to see one as all the local deales want to sell their stock of 710's first. The 715 suppose to be black stock, and a better action????suppose depends on better? Do want one of the 715's for a haul about firearm. Kinda hate to scratch up my Walnut Stocked Rem 700's, kinda thought for my 4 wheeler and pickup, a syn stock was better for that reason. As for shooting, doubt it has improved from the 710. AS soon as I find one in stock, may bring it home, if looks ok. Just did not like the Grey Stock on the 710 or the Stevens by Savage.Both will seve my purpose. For serious hunting out West, the 700's go as both zeroed in at 200 yds, and a Silver dollar will cover 3 shots at 200 yds. I;m just another gun nut, want one of each I see. Good hunting, Shoot often and straight.PS; Back to the 710: my understanding the first one's out had a polymer action rather than metal. Rem did change the action so they say. The one I saw did have a metal action, bolt, etc.Does the bbl on your 710 screw into the action or is it molded to the action? if Molded, it's one of the first one;s out.The Stevens by Savage is the faithful old Savage 110. Just wish the stock was black. Savage has for yers made a good firearm, just never sold here as well as Rem or Winc, or on the used gun market.For about $400.00 and a $4-500 .00 scope, you can hunt most anything with the Savage , be it a 06 or larger.

Michael King

I like the 308 better. It is available in short actions making for lighter rifles. The main reason is that heavier bullets can be used. Velocity does not impress me and usually means lighter bullets (unless one is using a magnum round). Being able to put the bullet where it needs to go is what counts. Heavier bullets retain energy better and penetrate better.

Midnight Banjo

Rocky - It took me about 5 different trips to the range to find the right round for the gun. The worst was the Rem. Core-lokt in the 180 gr. Was lucky to hit the paper at 100 yds! That trip looked more like I was using a shotgun! The best, but not by much was Winchester Supreme Accubond in the 180gr. followed closely by the plain old Rem. UMC in the 150 gr. Go figure...

Shoot more, shoot more often!

coach ike

midnight banjo: i own a rem 710 but in a 270 win. fairly accurate at 100 yds but at 200, it seems to be a bit all over the place. set 2 inches high at 100, it is about 3-4 inches low at 200. i really didnot shop around before buying it so for the $400 that i paid for it, it is worth the money. but for $200 more i could have bought the ruger m77 hawkeye which i heard is phenomenal. i hope this works.

Midnight Banjo

For me it was about finding the round that shot the best, as my shoulder can attest. I went through about 10 different rounds of varied manufacturers before finding what shot the most consistently. I liked the way the Rem. core-lokt @ 220 gr. shot, did very well at 100 and respectable at 200. The 180's in the same round were all over the paper @ 100, so they never got shot @ 200. I did replace the scope with one that costs more than the gun, and I think that helps quite abit. Good hunting!

Shoot more, shoot more often!


Custer was a brave fool with an ego that frequently clouded his judgment. Like someone else noted, it's a shame he got all those other brave men killed too.

O Garcia

Ironically, the one man who provided the most leadership at Rorke's Drift, Color Sergeant Borne (spelling) does not appear among the Victoria Cross recipients in the "Zulu" movie.

Talk about being royally screwed.


the color sgt. was not awarded the victoria's cross for the action at rorke's drift. he was decorated with a lesser medal and promoted (rumored to have taken a promotion in place of the victoria's cross)

Michael King

This is a change of subject but it appears there is much experience in here so I have a question. I hunt northern Ontario each fall for moose, deer, and black bear. For the past 20 years I have used a 30-06 with 180 grain bullets speer mag tips with no problems.
My girlfriend gave me a new rifle for my birthday. It is a custom mauser with 24" douglas barrel, timney trigger, leopold 2x7 on redfield base and rings. It has a synthetic stock. It is chambered for 338-06. She even purchased a set of reloading dies. Needless to say it is bound for Canada next month. I am not familure with this round and have yet to fire the rifle. The rifle looks brand new and the dealer she bought it from says it is the ticket for moose, elk, and big bears. My question is this, I usually use speer bullets but am open to suggestions. Should I use one of the 200 grain, 210 grain, 225 grain or 250 grain. Is the speer bullet ok or do you guys recommend another brand. I need to make a decision soon as I need to develop a load, sight in the rifle, and do some shooting before I go hunting. Thanks for the help

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