"1. Custer was operating on assumptions. He did now know the location of the village, except all indications pointed north of Ford A. He knew the Indians were coming out to meet Reno in force.
He did not know the terrain in the valley. He did not know how the terrain would affect the valley fight, and the advantages/disadvantages this would offer for Reno's attack.
This is unusual behavior for LTC Custer. His historical record shows that he likes to get far forward and make an early assessment.
2. This implies the move right was both an effort to gain exploit a supposed tactical opportunity, as well as a chance to find high ground to get a look into the valley. There was some confusion on Custer's intent with his scouts. Two scouts he had intended to scale the bluffs followed Reno instead. Mitch Bouyer led the remaining Crows, followed by GAC himself. Reno was still advancing down the valley and wasn't in contact.
3. The problem is that Custer was putting two terrain features between him and his own designated advance guard. He failed to inform his advance guard and other 2 separate Bns what he was doing. Ouiji board leadership is not generally recommended.
If he did plan to go right, then it was essential to move quickly to reestablish contact with Reno. This means moving along the bluffs until he finds a ford, then crossing and heading south to reach Reno.
During this period Reno is totally on his own, facing Custer's estimated 1,500 Indians.
4. Reno's dilemma. Reno's job was to find and develop enemy situation. He most certainly did. He found a massive pny herd on his left, and the south edge of village to his front. Hundreds of Indians were boiling out to meet him. He sent 2 messengers back to CUster informing him of the situation.
It was now the responsibility of the main body to react to enemy activity. Reno's force was too small to control the valley and he needed support on his right. Custer should have moved forward to right behind Reno to establish a command post, while sending a battalion to extend the regimental line to the left, holding his last Bn in reserve.
Manuals at the time spent extensive time on the orders and movements to shift a movement to contact into a battle line.
Reno was stuck by Custer's action. He had met the enemy and deployed. He had sent 2 messengers back. Custer should appear momentarily. Custer owed him a response, since Reno had completed his advance guard mission.
And Custer did not show. Reno's hesitation in the valley has a significant causal factor by the failure of the main body to show up.
5. Why was no messenger sent? Custer had left the main body and went up the bluffs. He signaled the main body to follow by waving his hat , according to surviving Crows. SO the responsibility to send messengers was with his staff, meaning Lt Cooke and CPT Custer.And they didn't do it. Custer did not tolerate independent decision making from his subordinates. He had chewed out Tom for moving the column that morning. When messengers were finally launched"