7th Cavalry – Captain McDougall’s Battalion

20 August 2018

McDougall’s ad hoc battalion comprised of one company of the 7th US cavalry. This was B Company and added the Pack Train during the march. It might also have had the Gatling Guns if Custer had taken them. 

Captain McDougall finally got the pack train out of the mire of Sun Dance Creek. His command was heading toward the Little Bighorn when volleys were heard, resonating across the hills. He was hearing the sounds of Custer's battle beginning.

When McDougall caught up with with Reno and Benteen, he accompanied them to Wier point but then retreated to Reno's Hill. They were then attacked by a considerable force of Sioux Indians, that had just wiped out Custer's Battalion.

Captain McDougall's B Company and the pack train along with Reno and Benteen's troops were then attacked continously on the hills looking down over the Little Bighorn. This lasted for the rest of the day, then through till late afternoon on June 26th.

The Indian warriors withdrew with their families and simply packed up, then moved south up the Little Bighorn valley.

On June 27th Colonel Gibbon arrived with his infantry reinforcements who immediately relieved the 7th Cavalry under Major Reno and Captain Benteen. It was then that they discovered the five companies with Custer had been surrounded and then wiped out with no survivors.

McDougall lost roughly 4% of his battalion strength from those who defended the attack on Reno’s Hill. 

Custer’s Gatling Guns 

Custer and the 7th U.S. Cavalry marched out without an offered a battery of three .50 caliber Gatling guns. The “artillery” unit would not have role at the Battle of the Little Big Horn because of concerns about the Gatling’s impeding Custer’s “pursuit of the Indians.” However, we have included them here for completeness and a what if element to the game.

Custer’s Pack Train 

Lieutenant Mathey's pack train was guarded by Captain McDougall's company to furnish an escort. The pack train itself was manned by troopers and so drained 126 troopers (22 percent) of Custer's fighting force.

However the train itself was still unable to keep up and lagged a long way in the rear. This held back all of Custer’s reserve ammunition and had the Indians known this, they could have destroyed the whole Regiment.

Below is 1953 Hollywood representation of what it might have looked like.

The Project for McDougall’s Battalion so far

McDougall’s Battalion is now based as both Mounted and Dismounted. We are showing them this way as these were distinct tactics in the Cavalry regulations at the time.

Dismounting gives troopers a distinct advantage in skirmishing and firing.

So here is McDougall’s Battalion mounted with him in command

And below is McDougall’s command dismounted. We decided that we were going to leave the Command stands mounted so they could be seen better in the game.

We also have the Gatling Guns along, as a "what if they had been taken"!

As well as the Pack Train of Lieutenant Mathey

Now they just have to be painted, bases prepared and varnished. Yep, we definitely need to start rushing soon. . .