Posted By:Sam Russell
Subject:Re: Forsyth
Post Date:May 09, 2005 at 20:15:41
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Forum:Battle of Wounded Knee Forum
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Jen... Not a very timely response to your posting, but...
Gen Nelson Miles, Commanding General of the Dept of the Missouri, tried his best to prove both your questions. He relieved Forsyth of command the the 7th Cav Regt while he investigated the actions at Wounded Knee and the following day at the Drexel Misison. Miles established a board of inquiry to look into three charges against Forsyth: whether the disposition of troops was judicious so as not to endanger fellow soldiers, whether any non-combatants were unnecessarily injured or destroyed, and whether Forsyth violated orders prohibiting officers from allowing their commands to be mixed up with hostile Indians. The investigating officers initially found no wrong doing, but Miles exerted some undue command influence after which the investigating officers, Kent and Baldwin, concluded that, “…it appears, in answer to the requirements of the Division Commander, Colonel Forsyth’s command was not held at a save distance, and the attack of the Indians resulted in a surprise to the troops.” Gen Miles forwarded the results of the investigation to Gen Schofield, Commanding General of the Army, who disagreed with Miles' findings. Secretary of War Redfield Proctor also disagreed with Miles and concluded:

"…the conduct of both officers and men through the whole affair demonstrates an exceedingly satisfactory state of discipline in the 7th cavalry. Their behavior was characterized by skill, coolness, discretion and forbearance, and reflects the highest possible credit upon the regiment….
"…. It is easy to make plans when we look backward, but in the light of actual conditions, as they appeared to the commanding officer, there does not seem to be anything in the arrangement of the troops requiring adverse criticism on the part of the Department.
"…. By direction of the President, Colonel Forsyth will resume the command of this regiment."