Monday, June 4, 2012

Little BigHorn Battlefield Visit - Reno in the Valley

Arriving at the LBH battlefield for the first time is're driving up I90 without realizing that you are in fact driving right through where Reno's dismounted skirmish line was deployed, and right in the vicinity of the huge pony herd and village area.

Reno's battalion swept down the valley from the left, dismounting at the area of the present red roofed buildings in the upper right of the photo.  The buildings are immediately to the east side of I90.  The photo is taken from the bluffs to the east of the river.

Another view of Reno's position from a slightly different position.  Trace along the line of I90 until you see the red roofed building, and that's Reno's dismounted skirmish line position.  The tree area to the east of that (closer to your viewing perspective) is the wooded area adjacent to the river that he fell back to as the pressure mounted from the Indian warrior's assault.

Another, wider angle, shot from a different angle.   Again - look for the red roof building to locate the skirmish line position.

A zoomed in photo of the red roofed buildings where the skirmish line was located.  Sorry for the slightly fuzzy focus....zoomed in and a windy day.

After "charging" down the valley, dismounting to a skirmish line, and then falling back into the woods, the next phase was a generally panic stricken rush to "get out of Dodge" and get over the river and up onto the perceived "safety".  Not one of Reno's finer moments....

You can see the flat area on this side of the river that Reno's fleeing troopers crossed over to, and the rugged ravines that they faced as they ascended to "safety".   

A closer look at the area.  

A closer view of the hills, folds, and ravines that the troopers fled up to get to the bluffs.   Hard to recreate this terrain on a wargame battlefield.

One can only imagine the sheer terror the troopers felt - a frontal assault gone bad, seemingly hordes of warriors boiling out of the village, the redeployment into the wooded area and then the panic stricken rout to the river.   If they managed to survive that far, they then had to get across the river and up to the top of the bluffs.    It's easy to see why Reno's battalion was effectively spent and ineffective after this experience.

More in the next post as I follow the battle flow through photos.


  1. Very cool use of the photos. It would be interesting to get down there and actually walk the retreat route.

  2. Imagining the scrambling foght that was LBH, over untamed country and following it in these pictures creates a rather peculiar, almost eerie impression against the background of what looks like beautiful and well tended modern farm country. Strange...

  3. Definitely Class 3 hill and perhaps with a special rule of max 1 move segment while in the terrain. Great pictures. That looks to be one heck of a battlefield.

  4. Sweet. Better stop now...I feel that Custer bug rising within me. The best job of recreating this type of terrain, in my opinion, is done by Eric Burgess, looks awesome:

  5. GREAT photos Brent! I have to get out there in the next couple years to see this in person.

    Thanks Tony for the plug! That Plains War Campaign I ran was just too much fun.


  6. You can't really walk off the designated paths on the battlefield. That's mainly for two reasons:

    1) Preservation of the landscape. If everyone was tramping all over, the battlefield would soon degrade. Any degree of additional unvegetated areas (paths, grass worn off) would erode (wind and rain) fairly quickly.

    2) Rattlesnakes. They are all over the place. You'll occasionally see them sunning themselves on paved areas. You'll run a good chance of running into them if you take off across the grass and sagebrush areas.

  7. Northern Wyoming and Montana are absolutely gorgeous. Still very green at this time of the year. Not a whole lot of farm country, but the rolling hills are beautiful. Even though its a strong 7 hour drive to the nearest "large" town (Sheridan, Wyoming....about 17,500 residents) for us, the drive goes quickly. Beautiful landscapes, virtually no traffic after you get to Wyoming, and lots of wildlife to watch along the route.