JUNE 25-26, 1876

Q.Q. 979

Day One


Office of the Judge Advocate General


November 28, 1933

SUBJECT: Commendation

TO: The Judge Advocate General

1. I desire to invite to your attention and to commend Messrs. Oliver C. Hinkle and William J. Mould for their very painstaking and workmanlike services in checking typed copies of the record of the Reno court of Inquiry held at Chicago in 1879; in preparing and mounting maps and other exhibits and making ready said copies of the record, for binding. Also for their careful and expert restoration of the original and official record of this historic proceeding, by reason of which it will be preserved for the future.

2. As this task was not only difficult, but was performed by these gentlemen in addition to their regular duties and without reward, I request that copies of this letter be placed with their records for their future benefit.

/s/ W. A. Graham

Colonel, J.A.G.D.

Chief, Military Affairs Section


/s/ Blanton Winship



JUNE 25-26, 1876

Q.Q. 979’’’


Lieutenant Edw. Maguire

Lieutenant G. D. Wallace

F. F. Girard

Lieutenant C. A. Varnum

Dr. H. R. Porter

Captain M. Moylan

George Herendeen

Captain J. S. Payne

Lieutenant L. R. Hare

Gorge Herendeen - Recalled

Lieutenant L. R. Hare - resumed

Lieutenant Chas. DeRudio

Sergeant Edward Davern

Lieutenant Chas. DeRudio - recalled

Sergeant Edward Davern - resumed

Sergeant F. A. Culbertson

Lieutenant Chas. DeRudio – recalled

Sergeant F. A. Culbertson – resumed

Trumpeter John Martin

Sergeant Edw. Davern – recalled

Captain F. W. Benteen

Lieutenant W. S. Edgerly

Captain F. W. Benteen – recalled

Lieutenant W. S. Edgerly –recalled

B. F. Churchill

Lieutenant W. S. Edgerly – recalled

Captain F. W. Benteen – recalled

Captain E. S. Godfrey

John Frett

Captain F. W. Benteen – recalled

Captain E. G. Mathey

Captain T. M. McDougall

Lieutenant G. D. Wallace – recalled

Lieutenant-Colonel M. V. Sheridan

Captain E. G. Mathey – recalled

Captain T. M. McDougall – recalled

Colonel John Gibbon

Major M. A. Reno

Major Reno’s written defense

Recorder Lee’s written reply

Finding of the Court


Proceedings of a Court of Inquiry convened at Chicago, Ill. By virtue of the following Special orders:

Headquarter of the Army Adjutant General’s Office Washington, November 25, 1878

Special Orders) No. 255)


By direction of the President, and on the application of Major Marcus A. Reno, 7th Cavalry, a Court of Inquiry is hereby appointed to assemble at Chicago, Illinois, on Monday the 13th day of January, 1879, or as soon thereafter as practicable for the purpose of inquiring into Major Reno’s conduct at the battle of Little Big Horn River on the 25th and 26th days of June, 1876.

The Court will report the facts and its opinion as to whether from all the circumstances in the case, any further proceedings are necessary.

  • Detail for the Court.
  1. Colonel John H. King, 9th Infantry
  2. Colonel Wesley Merritt, 5th Cavalry
  3. Lieutenant-Colonel W. B. Royall, 3rd Cavalry
  4. 1st Lieutenant Jesse M. Lee, Adjutant – 9th Infantry,

is appointed Recorder of the Court. By Command of General Sherman.

E. D. Townsend Adjutant General  

Chicago, Illinois Monday, January 13, 1879 11 o’clock AM

The Court met pursuant to the foregoing order:

  • Present:
  1. Colonel John H. King, 9th Infantry
  2. Colonel Wesley Merritt, 5th Cavalry
  3. Lieutenant-Colonel W. B. Royall, 3rd Cavalry
  • Recorder

1st Lieutenant Jesse M. Lee, Adjt. 9th Infantry

The Court then proceeded to the investigation of the matters submitted to it in the foregoing order, and Major Reno being present and having heard the order appointing the Court read, was asked if he had any objection to any member named in the order, to which he replied that he had not.

The members of the Court were then severally duly sworn by the Record and the Recorder was duly sworn by the President of the Court all of which oaths were administered in the presence of Major Reno.

The Recorder then stated that by authority from the Secretary of War he had employed H. C. Hollister as the stenographer of the court, and the stenographer was then duly sworn to a faithful discharge of his duties.

The Recorder then said: I have subpoenaed witnesses to the number of nineteen, and up to this morning only two have arrived that I am aware of. I wrote to the War Department for certain data in this case, and as to whether there were any accusations, imputations or charges against Major Reno, and in reply thereto I have received certain papers by this morning’s mail which I have not had time to give a careful examination. But there are several questions to be decided by the Court, one of which is as to the best mode of procedure, and these matters might be taken up first. I have an official copy of Major Reno’s application for a Court of Inquiry and also a letter from the Adjutant General transmitting it to me, which seems to be the basis of this inquiry, which I will read now if the court desires it.

Major Reno objected to the reading of any paper at this time except his application for a Court of Inquiry, because he had not been informed of any accusations against him.

The Court then directed the Recorder to read Major Reno’s application for a Court of Inquiry a copy of which is hereto attached and marked “Exhibit No. 1.”

The Recorder then stated: There is a man by the name of Whittaker whom I understand has made certain accusations against Major Reno, and his name will perhaps be brought in in [sic] connection with this case, and I desire to submit the question to the Court now and let it decide whether Mr. Whittaker shall be notified to be present, and invited to suggest the names of any witnesses in this case or to suggest any other evidence that will throw light on this investigation.

Major Reno then stated to the Court that by reason of delay in the receipt of certain papers and the arrival of a friend whom he desired to introduce as his counsel, he was not ready to proceed with this investigation today. And also stated that he believed he was entitled to the affirmative in this proceeding.

The Recorder said: I desire that question to be submitted and decided now. The affirmative of any issue must be first proven. The Court is called to investigate the conduct of Major Reno, and it is a well-known principle of law that a man is presumed innocent until he is proven guilty, and it is not for Major Reno, as I understand the law and the precedents, to prove his conduct was good until the contrary is proven.

Major Reno replied: I don’t think there is any issue further than that which I raise myself.

The Court was then cleared and closed, and after mature deliberation was again reopened, Major Reno being present, and the decision of the Court was announced by the Recorder as follows:

The Court decides that it will site with open doors, but further decides that no record or notes of the proceedings shall be taken for publication.

The Court decides that Mr. Whittaker shall be subpoenaed to appear and invited to suggest the names of witnesses in this case.

The Court reserved until tomorrow its decision on the question whether Major Reno or the Recorder shall first call and examine witnesses.

Then, at 12 o’clock M. [sic], on the application of Major Reno, the Court adjourned to meet at 11 o’clock A. M. tomorrow, January. 14, 1879.

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