DEVTOME.COM HOSTING COSTS HAVE BEGUN TO EXCEED 115$ MONTHLY. THE ADMINISTRATION IS NO LONGER ABLE TO HANDLE THE COST WITHOUT ASSISTANCE DUE TO THE RISING COST. THIS HAS BEEN OCCURRING FOR ALMOST A YEAR, BUT WE HAVE BEEN HANDLING IT FROM OUR OWN POCKETS. HOWEVER, WITH LITERALLY NO DONATIONS FOR THE PAST 2+ YEARS IT HAS DEPLETED THE BUDGET IN SHORT ORDER WITH THE INCREASE IN ACTIVITY ON THE SITE IN THE PAST 6 MONTHS. OUR CPU USAGE HAS BECOME TOO HIGH TO REMAIN ON A REASONABLE COSTING PLAN THAT WE COULD MAINTAIN. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SUPPORT THE DEVTOME PROJECT AND KEEP THE SITE UP/ALIVE PLEASE DONATE (EVEN IF ITS A SATOSHI) TO OUR DEVCOIN 1M4PCuMXvpWX6LHPkBEf3LJ2z1boZv4EQa OR OUR BTC WALLET 16eqEcqfw4zHUh2znvMcmRzGVwCn7CJLxR TO ALLOW US TO AFFORD THE HOSTING.

THE DEVCOIN AND DEVTOME PROJECTS ARE BOTH VERY IMPORTANT TO THE COMMUNITY. PLEASE CONTRIBUTE TO ITS FURTHER SUCCESS FOR ANOTHER 5 OR MORE YEARS!

PROCEEDINGS OF A COURT OF INQUIRY IN THE CASE OF MAJOR MARCUS A. RENO

CONCERNING HIS CONDUCT AT THE BATTLE OF THE LITTLE BIG HORN RIVER, JUNE 25-26, 1876, Q.Q. 979

THIRTEENTH DAY

Chicago, Illinois

Monday, January. 27, 1879

11 o’clock A. M.

The Court met pursuant to adjournment; all members of the Court, the Recorder; and Major Reno and his Counsel being present.

The proceedings of the last session having been read and approved, CAPTAIN MOYLAN was recalled and testified as follows:

  • QUESTIONS BY MAJOR RENO
Q. Do you remember having had a conversation with Lieut. Wallace while that command was in the timber in regard to sending back word to General Custer about the strength and position of the hostile Indians?
A. I remember having had a conversation with Lieut. Wallace about the lodges in the village; not the hostile force. He asked me if I could not send word back to General Custer of the facts. There happened to be a half breed Indian by the name of Jackson there, and I asked him if he could take a message back. He looked around before he made reply; then sweeping his hand around, as is the manner of Indians, to the left and rear, said “no one man could get through there alive”.

The witness then retired. George Herendeen, a citizen, a witness called by the recorder, and being first duly sworn to testify the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, testified as follows:

  • QUESTIONS BY THE RECORDER
Q. State your name, occupation and residence
A. George Herendeen; I have been running on the prairie as a scout. My residence is Bozeman, M., T.
Q. Were you present with any part of the 7th Cavalry on the 25th and 26th of June 1876?
A. Yes sir.
Q. In what capacity?
A. As scout and courier.
Q. For whom?
A. General Custer.
Q. On the morning of the 25th of June 1876, what was the condition of the horse you rode in the marches of that command?
A. My horse was in good condition. He was lame when I started with him, but he took me through all right. He was a good horse.
Q. State what duty you did as compared with the command - more or less.
A. I had more riding to do than the command would have.
Q. Describe if you can, the place where the command went into camp on the early morning of the 25th. State as near as you can how far from the river or the divide?
A. I judge it was not far from 20 miles from the Little Big Horn.
Q. Was that at the place coffee was made?
A. I don’t know: when we went into camp I laid down and went to sleep and did not wake up until the order to march was given,
Q. When did the command move?
A. In the morning.
Q. At what hour?
A. I think it was directly after sunrise: it was early.
Q. Do you know who ordered it to move?
A. No sir.
Q. Was General Custer present when it moved?
A. I think I saw General Custer when I went out myself. I went to the right flank. That was my place the night before and I went there that morning.
Q. Was the whole command in motion when you went out?
A. No sir.
Q. Were they getting under way?
A. Yes sir.
Q. State what you did and what you saw when you got on the divide?
A. We went some distance up a dry fork and the command halted. I went off some 500 or 600 yards from the command and stayed there while General Custer was on ahead looking for (the) Indian camp*
Q. That did you see there, if anything?
A. A few minutes before General Custer came down, there was a scout named Boyer, a half-breed; he and I were great friends and he came to me as he came down. As I was looking a few minutes before, I had seen some object, but having but just got a glance at it, I thought perhaps it was a deer; but when he came down he asked me if I had seen that Indian. I said I had seen some object but I did not know what it was. He said “It was an Indian, and when he saw you he run for camp”. He said he had seen two others with 3 or 4 loose horses and they had run.
Q. Did you hear any orders given that morning by General Custer or his Adjutant to Major Reno, if so where and at about what hour, and what orders were they?
A. I heard General Custer tell Major Reno to lead out and he would be with him. Those are about the words I understood him to use. That is all I heard.
Q. Where was that?
A. About a mile or a mile and a half from the village.
Q. How far from the river?
A. About three quarters of a mile.
Q. Was it near any Indian lodge?
A. Yes sir, right by the side of one.
Q. How far was that teepee from the crossing?
A. About three quarters of a mile.
Q. Was that the point where Major Reno’s battalion pulled out?
A. Yes sir, Major Reno led out and I went with him. Directly after General Custer used those words he said ‘take the scouts with you, too” and I supposed that included me and I went along. We started at a lope and went to the Little Big Horn.
Q. How long did it take you to get there?
A. We went in a slow lope. Major Reno said “Keep your horses well in hand, boys”, and we took a slow lope so as not to wind our horses; and we were probably 5 or 6 minutes going down there: I can’t tell,
Q. State all that transpired from that time till Major Reno’s command halted and deployed as skirmishers - what conversation, if any you had, with Major Reno: what orders, if any were given by him, and what Indians, if any you saw.
A. We were loping down to the Little Big Horn, and I had some trouble before I got there and I did not catch up till Major Reno and the men with him were in the creek. There was six Crow Indians along, and two or three of them were with me. Major Reno was in the creek at the time: one of the Crows called out, in Crow, that the Sioux were coming up to meet us. I called across, to no one in particular, to hold on - the Sioux were coming to meet us, I did not see any Indians, but supposed the Crows had. They kept on across and I then crossed myself. I did not look back. The command went through the timber and went on down in a lope: I kept off to the left out of the way. As we advanced down the valley, fires commenced springing up in the timber. We kept right on down the river, facing a little point of timber that came out on the prairie. Major Reno’s command came up facing that, and there a few shots were fired into the timber by the soldiers, - I supposed to draw the fire of any Indians that might be there. The command halted there and formed a skirmish line.
Q. In going down the valley how did the horses seem?
A. They went down in good style I thought.
Q. Did you notice any difficulty on the part of the men in controlling the horses?
A. No sir, only a shot was fired occasionally in the command. They kept in good shape,
Q. Did any Indians oppose the advance of the command down there?
A. I did not see any and I was in front. The Indians were sitting still on their horses; seemed to be awaiting our approach, and did not move till we got near to where the command dismounted; then they commenced making up and skirmishing out.
Q. Did you hear any fire returned from the timber by the Indians?
A. No sir,
Q. Was there any returned?
A. I think not. If there had been I could have heard the balls and I heard none.
Q. What was your position in reference to the column going down?
A. About on a line with it, but to the left.
Q. In the direction of the sand hills or bluffs?
A. I was between the troops and the bluffs.
Q. How far out from the left of the column were you?
A. Probably 100 yards
Q. When the command halted and deployed, where did you take your station?
A. About in rear and on the left, in a little swale. As the troops dismounted, we stopped behind so as not to be in the way. They swung to the left, which left us on the left of the line.
Q. Was it clear to the left, or along there?
A. Somewhere along in that locality.
Q. State what you did while in that position?
A. We dismounted and set down and watched the fire of the troops a few minutes. There were no Indians near enough to shoot at, so we sat there. The troops were firing rapidly. We could see Indians on the hills, but so far off it was no use to shoot at them. There were two men with me - Reynolds and Girard - and we proposed to all shoot at one Indian. We fired, but all our shots fell short. That was the only shot we fired there.
Q. How far were your sights raised?
A. I did not use raised sights, but the others did. We judged our shots reached from 700 to 900 yards. We could see all the balls strike short of the Indian.
Q. At that time were there any Indians nearer to the command than that one Indian?
A. I could not see any.
Q. Did you see any Indians at all in the bottom?
A. A little farther down the valley than the one we shot at on the hill, I saw Indians; and after that they got closer, probably within 3 or 4 hundred yards.
Q. State how long you remained there and what you did after?
A. Directly after we fired that shot, we took our horses in the timber and tied them so they would not be any trouble to us, as we expected to stay there and fight on foot. In coming out, I got separated from my partners and was alone after that. When I came out, I saw Indians circling around the hills and coming in the valley closer to us. As I came out, I was in a position where I could not see the troops: I was facing the way we came in and the soldiers were facing the bluffs. I stayed there and saw Indians coming in, and presently the firing ceased on the part of the soldiers and the Indians came in closer, coming within 40 or 50 steps of me and run into the timber. I got in some nice shots there, but as the firing had ceased, I went to see what the troops were doing, I went down in the timber and the horses were gone - none but mine was left. I got on him and rode through into a little park or glade in the timber. There I saw some troops, probably a company, drawn up in line facing the creek as the stream run.
Q. Did the stream make a bend about there?
A. There was a bend below. They were not facing the bend, they were facing north and south nearly; that is the right would be to the south.
Q. Look at this map and see if you can locate about your position in the timber when you went from the prairie into the timber,
A. I can describe it by that open place, but not by the balance of it.
Q. Say that dotted line was the skirmish line, but not extending out that far, where was your position?
A. I should call that advance line the skirmish line.
Q. State the position you occupied at the time.

THE WITNESS THEN MARKED ABOUT WHERE HIS POSITION WAS WITH A FIGURE “4”.

Q. From there, go on and describe your movement into the timber.
A. I went down into that opening.
Q. Where were the Indians you saw?
A. They came around to our left and went into the timber. As there was no firing on the line, they came closer and closer. There was firing from the line across towards the bluffs, but it was long rifle range and the Indians came riding around on the hills and in the bottom about one third of the way from “C” to “A”, working in that way towards the timber; and when the fire of the troops ceased, they came straight across to the timber.
Q. When you were there firing at the Indians, did they return your fire?
A. A few returned it.
Q. Did they seem to regard or respect your firing?
A. They came right along: it did not turn them.
Q. How many did you see come in there?
A. Twenty or 25; and they were still coming when I rode into the timber. . They did not come together but came straggling, along.
Q. What was their firing as regards the troops?
A. The Indians were not firing at the troops. 3 or 4 shots were fired at me as they went along. They could just see my head and shoulders as I stood in a buffalo trail leading into the timber.
Q. State what experience you have had in Indian warfare.
A. I have been in that country about 10 years and have been in a good many Indian fights. I have been in 3 very heavy engagements, one within about 15 miles of that place, one within about 50 miles, and one within about 12 miles.
Q. Have you generally been employed by the Government out there?
A. I have some, but not a great deal. The fights I have been in out there, I was with citizens.
Q. State from that place in the timber, how many men it would have required to have checked those Indians or driven them out at the time they were coming in?
A. Ten men could have stopped them coming in at that one point, in my judgment.
Q. How long were you at that particular place - in that buffalo trail before you left it?
A. I was there probably 6 or 7 minutes. I fired 7 or 8 shots.
Q. Were you mounted or dismounted?
A. Dismounted.
Q. State if you rejoined the command in the timber or in that vicinity?
A. As I started to find the command, they were standing still mounted in that perk - what I could see of them.
Q. How many could you see?
A. There was a line extending along one side of that square; I did not notice particularly how many. I saw they were drawn up in line.
Q. In what direction were the troops you saw there facing, in relation to the village?
A. They were facing at right angles. That is, the left was down the river.
Q. How were they, in close order or in skirmish line?
A. I judge in close order.
Q. What do you mean by close order?
A. As close as the horses could stand together.
Q. Did you see Major Reno there, and if so what was he doing?
A. He was sitting on his horse in the park.
Q. Were you near him?
A. I rode to within about six feet of him on his right.
Q. Did you speak to him?
A. No sir.
Q. Did he speak to you?
A. No sir.
Q. Did you hear him give any orders or instructions at that time?
A. I heard him order the troops to dismount, and there was a volley fired by the Indians - I judge the same Indians that came in and that I had been firing at. There was an Indian standing on Major Reno’s front not more than 8 or 10 feet from him. As I rode in there, and got straightened up and saw how everything lay, this volley was fired; and this Indian and a soldier was hit. The soldier hallooed, and Major Reno gave the order to dismount; and the soldiers had just struck the ground when he gave the order to mount, and then everything left the timber on a run.
Q. Who was this Indian, if you know?
A. He was called “Bloody-Knife”.
Q. How near was he to Major Reno when he was killed?
A. Within 8 or 10 feet to his right and front.
Q. Who did you see start from there; and describe the manner of starting?
A. Major Reno started out, and the line broke to get out as far as I could see. I stood there a second or so, and they were getting out at any place they could find. There was a dense undergrowth there, and there could not more than one man get out at a time; they had to go in single file on some trail that had been made by buffalo or some animals.
Q. You saw the command leave the timber?
A. I saw it start.
Q. Did the men appear to be frightened or not, at that time?
A. That volley and the man hollering appeared to startle everybody, and they ran.
Q. Did you follow them?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Were you frightened?
A. I was not till after I got dismounted. I was not in the timber; I thought I had a pretty good position and there was nothing to get frightened at.
Q. Describe what occurred after that: the manner in which the command went across the bottom, and why you did not go, if you did not?
A. I started and got to the edge of the timber: some of the men were passing me, and all were going as fast as spurs would make an American horse go; and I started my horse. There was a dense cloud of dust, and I could not see where I was going. I got out about 150 yards and my horse went down. I don’t know whether he stumbled or was hit; he was hit when I found him after, but he went down and I went off, and I got back into the timber. Men were passing me all the time, everybody was running for their life. Some Indians liked to have run over me as I fell; probably 20 Indians ran almost over me. I got up and turned and went right back into the timber.
Q. Did you, at the time the command left the timber, see any officer or hear any officer making any attempt to stop or halt the men; if so state what officer and what he was doing?
A. As I started back and got near the timber the men were still coming out; and from the other side of the timber or sight near the timber, I heard an officer trying to halt his men. I think he said “Company A men halt - let us fight them - for God’s sake don’t run.” I don’t remember his words, but I remember his hallooing.
Q. Was that the substance of it?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Did the men seem to be firing with their revolvers when they left?
A. I saw no shots fired. The Indians were not paying as much attention as they went out, as after they got out a ways. I saw one man throw his gun away as he was going out of the timber. He got left behind, and I don’t suppose he knew what he was doing.
Q. What did you find back in the timber?
A. A few men dismounted and some mounted. I advised them to go into the timber and try and stand the Indians off, as there was no use trying to get away by running, as I had tried that. They turned back into the timber and stayed there.
Q. Did you find any Indians there?
A. No sir.
Q. State if the men you found in there had any ammunition?
A. Yes sir, they all appeared to have plenty. There were 7 or 8 horses in there. About half the men were mounted and about half dismounted. The men who had horses had plenty of ammunition in their saddle bags.
Q. Were you and they molested by Indians in there?
A. No sir,
Q. How long did you remain there before leaving?
A. I judge near two hours: I can’t state the time exactly.
Q. How did the men appear when you first went in there?
A. Everybody was a good deal frightened when I first got in there; but we had plenty of time to cool off as nobody was molesting us considered we were in a desperate place and had to do something, and commenced cleaning our guns and getting our ammunition ready for a fight, if it did come.
Q. After Major Reno’s command left, and you had gone back into the timber, did you hear any firing; and if so where, and describe it?
A. I heard firing after we had been in there some time. We had got settled down and were talking over matters.
Q. Give your idea of the time.
A. It was not over half an hour; I think it was under.
Q. Describe that firing.
A. It began in volleys. I heard a great many volleys fired; then between the volleys, and after the volleys ceased, there were scattering shots.
Q. That was dawn the stream?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Have you been over the Custer battlefield?
A. Yes sir.
Q. What was the direction of that firing in reference to the place those men were found?
A. That would be the right direction - it came from that direction.
Q. How long before that fire died away entirely, from the time you first heard it?
A. It might have lasted an hour: I think not over an hour.
Q. After that, did you hear any firing on the right bank of the stream?
A. No sir.
Q. Did you hear any scattering shots?
A. No sir, I did not.
Q. What did you think it was, at the time you heard this volley firing you speak of?
A. I thought it was General Custer.
Q. Was that impression changed afterwards, or was it confirmed?
A. It was confirmed.
Q. You have scouted that country over, have you not?
A. Yes sir.
Q. You remember the place where Major Reno’s command pulled ahead of General Custer to go to the crossing?
A. Yes sir.
Q. You know where General Custer was found with his men afterwards?
A. Yes sir.
Q. I want you to take into consideration the time that elapsed after Major Rena got to the place where he halted and formed the skirmish lines and the engagement following it, and state where General Custer must have been at the time Major Reno left the timber with his command.
A. He must have been about half way from the starting point and where he had his fight.
Q. Here is the point “A” showing the crossing of Major Reno in the first instance - how do you mean half way to the place he made his fight?
A. I judge that at the time Maj Reno left the timber General Custer was about opposite where we were. I judge that by the distance; I did not see him at all.
Q. Designate it on the map if you can.
A. I don’t like this map, I don’t think it shows the country.
Q. This map don’t show where they separated; but remember where Major Reno pulled ahead, and take into consideration the time it took to get there, and the movements there at the timber by the command, and knowing the country as you do, and the battlefield of General Custer, how near was General Custer to his battlefield when Major Reno left the timber with his command.
A. It would just be a guess, depending on how fast he was traveling. He ought to have been beyond Major Reno’s position on the hill about half a mile. I should not think he was over two miles from his battlefield where he was found
Q. Locate on the map about where that would be.
A. I don’t know how fast General Custer was traveling, and it would be a mere guess. A man with a good fast horse could have gone there before Major Reno left the timber,
Q. If these lines represent General Custer’s trail, about how far would that be on this map?
A. I know that country; and from the point we called Weir’s Hill, there is a sort of wale runs down, and it is nice traveling to the creek that rune in there. I was not over General Custer’s trail that season, but I was the next; but it was so obliterated then that I don’t know exactly where it was.
Q. What time was it when you left the timber as near as you could judge?
A. I can’t tell - it was late in the afternoon,
Q. Did you rejoin that command; if so with whom?
A. I did, with 11 enlisted men.
Q. Were they in the timber with you that day, or did you pick them up going over?
A. They were with me in the timber - were wounded.
Q. Do you know when they were wounded?
A. I do not.
Q. Do you know whether it was before the command left the timber, or while in the act of leaving the timber?
A. I think one man told me he was wounded as he got outside of the timber after he was dismounted.
Q. What command did you join and where?
A. I joined Major Reno’s command on the opposite side of the river on the bluff.
Q. Did you take those men with you?
A. Eleven men went with me; two did not.
Q. Were they wounded men or not?
A. They were well men.
Q. Where did you cross the river when you joined the command?
A. We left the vicinity of that little park, and went out in the bend and crossed right in the bend.
Q. Did you see the troops which you joined?
A. We saw troops on the hill as we crossed.
Q. Did you see troops below that as you came out?
A. After we crossed, we started up that little valley on the other side before we started up the hill; and just before we got to where we could see the position of the troops, we saw an officer and some men start towards us and we went up; and some troops were on the march down the ridge.
Q. Whose company did you meet?
A. I don’t know whose company: I met Lieutenant Varnum and 4 or 5 men coming to meet us.
Q. Did you encounter any Indians coming out of the timber?
A. Only five; they fired one shot and we returned it and they run. That was all the opposition we had.
Q. What was the command doing when you got on the hill; engaged in firing on the enemy?
A. They were not engaged, they were marching down. They became engaged in a few minutes after. I was coming up the hill I saw Indians advancing in that direction.
Q. When you got on the hill was the pack train up?
A. Yes sir: as I got up the pack train was just opposite me,
Q. Did you participate in the battle on the hill on the 25th and 26th of June?
A. Yes sir, we were corralled on the hill those days.
Q. Were you assigned to any post; if so, by whose order?
A. 1 was not.
Q. State whet you saw going on there.
A. I could see only part of it - in the immediate vicinity of ‘where I was.
Q. Where were you?
A. The first night I was in the center. When my horse fell he hurt me, and

I got wet crossing the river, and that night I laid among the horses; and the next day I was with “A” company.

Q. What kind of a crossing was it where you came over?
A. It was a steep cut bank, and the water was about up to my shoulder.
Q. How was it on the other side?
A. A gravelly bar.
Q. How was the timber?
A. It was scattering.
Q. How scattering?
A. I can’t tell about the timber; I never thought of it before, I remember seeing timber, and there was brush on the creek on the other side.
Q. Was it dense?
A. Yes sir, part of it, All through the valley there was an occasional tree and some brush, enough to conceal a man walking along.
Q. Did you see Major Reno on the hill on the 25th and 26th days of June?
A. Directly after I got on the hill I had a conversation with Major Reno. He called to me to interpret for him and Half-Yellow-Face. He wanted to inquire about the Indian camp. I called the Indian up and he went up where he could look over into the valley. Major Reno wanted his opinion about what the Indians were going to do, as they had taken their lodges down. Half-Yellow-Face said he thought they were going off, and then went away. A short time after, Major Reno called him back and asked “Now is this, the lodges are all up again?” They were all standing as they were in the first place. He said he didn’t know. That was all the conversation I had with hint on that day.
Q. State what officer appeared to be exercising command there, and state what he did.
A. I was not in a position where I could see all of the command: I could see only about three companies but the commander I did see was Captain Benteen on that part of the field.
Q. What portion of the field do you refer to, the right or left as you faced the Indians?
A. As we faced the Indians, it would be both.
Q. Describe Captain Benteen’s position there; whether on a knoll or hill to the right, up stream.
A. I should call it on a knoll to the right; it would be up the river the way I was facing; it would be on my right,
Q. State whether or not you saw the Indian village; and if so, when. and how many lodges do you estimate it to contain, and state the facts upon which you base your estimate,
A. I saw the Indian village, or the greater part of it anyhow. I suppose all of it while I was on the hill corralled with Major Reno the first afternoon. It was a large camp, I think of about 1800 lodges. I have seen a great many camps, and this was the largest I ever saw by a great deal.
Q. Did you see the lodges and the places they had been?
A. I merely took an eye view, and estimated from what I had seen in other camps.
Q. State how much ground the Indian village covered.
A. That would be hard to tell. In any opinion they moved camp the day before we got there in the morning. It covered a great deal of ground they were not using when we got there.
Q. State whether or not in a camp of Indians, they frequently change the position of their lodges.
A. Yes sir, frequently after occupying one place for a day or two, they change if only to get a clean place.
Q. Did you see the Indian village move off on the 26th?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Describe the length and width of it, and how far it was away.
A. It was nearly dark, and I could only see a black mass moving away. You could not distinguish an Indian on horseback to know it was an Indian. It might have been 2 miles long, and probably half a mile wide. They seemed to be in a good deal of a hurry to change camp.
Q. State how many Indians you saw attacking Major Reno’s position on the afternoon of the 25th or on the 26th.
A. I could not judge the number only by the firing; you could not see the Indians themselves. There may have been four or five hundred around him at a time. My experience is, they don’t put all their men in a bunch; if they have enough for reliefs, they have them. There were enough of them to hold every position.
Q. Do you know the point occupied by Captain Weir’s company below Major Reno’s position after it moved down?
A. Yes sir.
Q. How far was it away from Major Reno’s position?
A. Probably half a mile; may be more.
Q. State whether during the fight Indians occupied that hill.
A. Yes sir, I saw Indians on it.
Q. State if they fired from there into the command.
A. I can’t say. They fired at us from very long range; and as the balls would fall among us we could pick them up.
Q. From all you saw &zing those two days or afterwards, state what was your estimate of the effective fighting force of that hostile village, and state how you arrive at it.
A. I judge there were 3500 fighting men.
Q. What do you mean by fighting men?
A. Everything able to handle a gun. I arrive at it by the number of lodges and wickyups. I think there was a large force of Indians who had no women along.
Q. May you not be considerably in error as to the number of lodges there?
A. Yes sir, I may be,
Q. Within what limit would you put it?
A. I would not say within what limit. I always have estimated them at that number, I have seen 700 or 800 lodges together before; and I judge there were all of 1800 there,
Q. State how many rounds of ammunition you fired there in the timber
A. Probably ten rounds.
Q. From your experience in Indian fights, how long could a command of 100 men have held out in that timber with six or seven thousand rounds of ammunition judiciously used?
A. I don’t think the Indians could have gotten them out of there at all if they had water and provisions.
  • QUESTIONS BY MAJOR RENO
Q. When you laid down to sleep on the morning of the 25th and did not take any coffee, you were pretty well exhausted were you not?
A. No sir.
Q. Not very tired?
A. No sir; we had made a night march. Le had slept till 11 o’clock the evening before and then marched till probably 2 o’clock and then laid down again,
Q. How long did you sleep that time?
A. I don’t know how long: I can’t state the hour we marched,
Q. What do you estimate it at?
A. Probably 7 o’clock.
Q. You slept from what time in the morning till 7 o’clock?
A. I laid down about 3, I expect.
Q. Where were you when General Custer gave the order to Major Reno that you have stated - at what part of the column?
A. I was standing still, right by the side of that lodge. I had helped to cut it open to see what was in it,
Q. Was the column in motion or not?
A. It was in motion.
Q. Near what part of the column were you?
A. General Custer was nearly opposite me, within probably 15 feet of me coming up. That lodge stood off the trail a few feet.
Q. Where was Major Reno and who was with him?
A. I can’t say who was with him; he was right there in front as I heard the words spoken,
Q. Was he alone or with company?
A. There was a party of men with him, I don’t know who; I suppose his orderlies and an officer or two; I can’t say. Probably 10 or 15 men were with him.
Q. How long after did you mount and join the command?
A. I was mounted at the time and started right out. He kept on the trail and I was probably ten feet to the right of him.
Q. Did you have him in sight till you reached the ford?
A. I did till my horse fell.
Q. How close to the ford was that?
A. Within 300 or 400 yards.
Q. Did he receive any other orders from General Custer or from his Adjutant?
A. Not that I know of.
Q. Do you know whether Lieut. Wallace and Lieut, Hare were with Major Reno on the way to the ford from that point?
A. I do not know. I was not acquainted with the officers except General Custer, Major Rena and Lieutenants Hare and Varnum.
Q. You did not see Lieut. Cook deliver an order to Major Reno?
A. No sir.
Q. The order you heard delivered was from General Custer himself?
A. Yes sir.
Q. With whom did you stop when the command was halted and deployed in skirmish line?
A. There was a Crow Indian, Girard, and Charley Reynolds, are all I remember.
Q. When did you dismount?
A. As soon as the troops dismounted.
Q. Were they with you at that time?
A. They were around near me in that swale there.
Q. How soon after you dismounted did the scouts scatter?
A. We sat there a short time watching the troops firing. They had formed in line and were firing. We were discussing the matter and thought we would take a shot.
Q. Where have you fixed the point at which you dismounted?
A. In the vicinity of the figure 4.
Q. Look at this figure “1” and state if that was not the point at which you and Girard and Reynolds were.
A. This is not my idea of the ground.
Q. How far is it from the point “1” to the point “4” according to the scale of this map?
A. That is something I don’t know.
Q. According to your knowledge of the country, what would you estimate the distance to be?
A. It was probably three or four times farther than I would make it by a guess. I judge by the scale it is a quarter of a mile.
Q. The point “1” is not the point where you dismounted?
A. It would be if you took the points on the map as correct where the line was formed; it would be about the same place.
Q. How long did you remain in that swale?
A. Probably 6 or 7 minutes,
Q. Where was Major Reno during that time and whet was he doing?
A. I did not see him.
Q. Was he in front of the line according to any knowledge you have from any source?
A. I know nothing about it. I saw the troops and was watching them fire. I saw no officer and paid no attention to their movements up there.
Q. You don’t know where Major Reno was during that period?
A. No sir.
Q. What did you do after you arose from the swale?
A. I took my horse to the timber and tied him.
Q. Did you see Major Reno at that time?
A. No sir.
Q. At what part of the timber did you tie your horse?
A. Nearly straight down from where I was. I did not go to the glade, but tied him between the glade and the prairie.
Q. What was the skirmish line doing during that time?
A. I could hear them firing at the time I tied my horse.
Q. Heavily or not?
A. Yes, a very good skirmish fire.
Q. You had fired no shots, had you?
A. Yes, one shot,
Q. That was at the distant Indian you spoke of?
A. Yes sir.
Q. What did you do after you tied your horse?
A. I came out.
Q. To the skirmish line?
A. No sir,
Q. What do you mean?
A. I came right back out of the timber the way I went in.

Would that be in the rear of the skirmish line?

A. It would be the same position I was in before.
Q. How long were you gone tying your horse and coming back?
A. Probably 5 minutes.
Q. Were the men then on the skirmish line?
A. I could hear the firing. When I came out, my attention was attracted by the Indians coming out: I could see them coming on the hills,
Q. In considerable numbers or not?
A. Scattering, not a great many.
Q. Did they continue to come in considerable numbers?
A. They did not seem to increase in number any.
Q. What was the number of Indians on that bottom between the skirmish line and tee ford “A” at the time that column retired from the timber?
A. I don’t know,
Q. Have you any estimate?
A. When I left the line and went to get my horse, I rode the other way into the park. I don’t know what number had got there. They can ride pretty fast,
Q. Can you give an estimate of the number of Indians between the skirmish line and “A”?
A. Most of them got around and got into the timber. They started to come in from the hills and came in on the left. That is all I know about it.
Q. Have you any judgment to give of the number of Indians on the prairie at the time the command left the timber?
A. I was not out there at the time and can’t tell,
Q. What did you do after coming out; and where did you go, and what did you see?
A. I sat down in a buffalo trail and waited for the Indians to come up,
Q. What was the skirmish line doing at that time - still firing?
A. They were for a few seconds and then cussed; after the Indians got close enough for me to fire, there was no fire from the line.
Q. What was the line doing?
A. I don’t know.
Q. Do you know by whose order any change of position was made?
A. No sir.
Q. How long was it before the skirmish line was withdrawn to the timber from the time it was deployed?
A. I judge it was 15 minutes.
Q. What did you do when the Indians came close enough for you to fire?
A. I went in the timber and untied my horse.
Q. That point was not as far towards the Indian village as the glade itself?
A. The glade was between the village and my horse.
Q. You did not have to pass through the glade to get your horse?
A. No sir.
Q. Where was Major Reno at the time you went and untied your horse?
A. I don’t know. When I mounted and rode into the glade I saw him.
Q. Why did you go and untie your horse?
A. I heard no firing from the troops, and wanted to go and see what they were doing.
Q. Where were the troops at the time you untied your horse?
A. I don’t know; when I came to the glade, there was that pert which I saw.
Q. When you untied your horse, had the troops left the timber?
A. The part I saw were on their horses in the glade.
Q. Did you untie your horse and go in there before the troops left the timber?
A. Yes sir; before the troops I saw there left,
Q. Before any of the troops, so far as you know, had left the timber?
A. Yes sir. The troops I speak of were the troops I saw in the glade mounted: I don’t know whether that was all of the command or only part of it. That pert I saw when I came out.
Q. Where did you see those mounted troops after you got on your horse?
A. In that glade.
Q. Major Reno gave the command “dismount” when you came up?
A. Yes sir. (When) I came up he was sitting on his horse. I stood there a second or two, enough to notice what was going on.
Q. He afterwards gave the command mount”?

A: Yes sir.

Q. How many troops were about him and of what companies?
A. I do not know of what companies. I judge there was a company in there that I saw: I don’t know how far they extended out of my sight. In that glade there was all of one company formed.
Q. Can you give an estimate of the number?
A. I judge there were 50; just, guessing at it.
Q. How near were you to Major Reno?
A. Probably within six feet of him.
Q. What did Major Reno do when he ordered the command to mount?
A. He started through the timber.
Q. Rapidly or not?
A. Yes, he started rapidly.
Q. Did he succeed in riding rapidly through there?
A. He passed out of my sight very soon,
Q. Did you have an opportunity to follow him?
A. There was nothing holding me from following him.
Q. Did all the soldiers follow him - those 50 you spoke of?
A. I don’t know. They went out of the timber.
Q. Do you know whether he continued to ride rapidly without stopping at the edge of the timber?
A. No sir, I can’t say. I started right out of the timber, but did not go very fast; but as I came out the men were going across the prairie on a dead run, I don’t know where Major Reno was at the time.
Q. How far was that from the edge of the timber you saw him start on his horse?
A. I judge it was probably 75 feet.
Q. Could you see through it?
A. No sir.
Q. Did you see Captain Moylan at the edge of the timber?
A. No sir. I did not see him anywhere in the fight.
Q. You did not see Major Reno speak to Captain Moylan, or tarry with him?
A. I did not.
Q. Do you know to what company the men left in the timber belonged?
A. I know there was a man or two of “A” company. I can’t state as to the others, I heard them talking among themselves.
Q. Would there not be something on their uniforms or caps to show?
A. Occasionally a man had a letter on his cap (sic), but they generally wore whet kind of a hat they pleased, and not all had their letters on their hats.

Q Don’t you know that most of them belonged to Co. A?

A. No sir, I do not.
Q. Do you know they belonged to any other company than “A”?
A. I think there were men, from more than one company.
Q. What number do you fix as belonging to other companies than “A”?
A. I cannot tell you anything about that
Q. You remained there two hours?
A. I judge about that
Q. Two men were still left in the timber?
A. That is what they state.
Q. Did you know at the time of leaving the timber they were there?
A. I did not
Q. Did you see Mr. Girard in the timber?
A. No sir, not in the timber.
Q. During the 2 hours you were in the timber, what part of it could you see?
A. I was right at the edge of the park, and could see from where I lay into the park, and into the timber and onto the hill on the other side,
Q. Do you really know at what point the column of Custer ceased to follow the direction the column of Major Reno took?
A. I do not: I did not look back to seer.
Q. If at the time the skirmish line was being deployed, the gray horse company of the column, of which it was a part, was at the point marked “2” in pencil on the map, on the right bank of the river, where would that column in all probability have been at the time Major Reno left the timber?
A. That would be another guess with me - as to how far they could go in that length of time,
Q. Would they have had time to get to the point “B”?
A. They would have had time enough to go a mile I think, easy. What is the character of the country towards “B”?
A. I claim that what is called Weir’s Hill is the highest point on the ridge in that vicinity.
Q. That circular mark is to indicate the position Major Reno took, How far from there can you see the country towards “B”?
A. To that highest point - Weir’s Hill - probably half a mile down.
Q. How long after Major Reno’s command left the timber did you hear that general firing in the direction General Custer’s body was afterwards found?
A. We had got in the timber and had got cooled down and were studying up plans what to do to get out must have been in there 20 minutes,
Q. If at the time Major Reno’s command was deploying as a skirmish line, the column with the gray horse company was at the point “2”, in 20 minutes after Major Reno’s command left the timber, would they not have had time to get farther than “B”?
A. Yes sir.
Q. If the column had been at “2” at the time the skirmish line was deployed by Major Reno, would it not have had time to have done considerable firing at “B”, if there was any fight there?
A. I don’t think there was any fight there.
Q. With regard to the firing you did yourself, were you not very much interested in hitting the Indian you were firing at. Was not your attention wholly called to your employment?
A. Of course I was interested in my shot.
Q. Would you not have been inattentive to firing in other directions as long as you were firing yourself?
A. No sir,
Q. Do you think you could hear the firing of others as well as if you had not been firing yourself?
A. I was thinking of the position I was in, not hearing any more firing from the troops, and the Indians coming in so close. No firing being done in my rear, I supposed the Indians would join very soon.
Q. Do you know whether the troops laid in the edge of the timber?
A. I could not say,
Q. Do you know how much ammunition they had?
A. Judging from what the men who had horses left in the timber, they had plenty. They had six or seven packages of ammunition each.
Q. Did the men have in their saddle bags more than 50 rounds of ammunition each?
A. They had all of that. They had more than we wanted.
Q. Did the troops have 6000 or 7000 rounds of cartridges?
A. I don’t know,
Q. The estimate you base on what the troops could do with that number of cartridges would depend on whether they had that number?
A. I heard it said that the men had 100 rounds each; probably 60 in their saddle bags and 40 in their belts,
Q. You fired more carefully than the troops and less frequently?
A. I don’t know about that. Take 100 men firing, and you can’t tell whether they are firing slower than you or not.
Q. The firing was so frequent you could not distinguish the individual firing?
A. No; I did not see them fire only in the first part of it.
Q. In point of fact, how much of Major Reno’s conduct did you see in the timber?
A. I did not see Major Reno at all only at the time he left
Q. While in the timber how much did you see of him?
A. I saw him give the orders and saw him start probably half a minute while standing there before that volley was fired by the Indians
Q. Was Captain Benteen the senior captain on the hill—top?
A. I believe he was,
Q. He would be the second in command, would he not?
A. I judge so, as far as I know about military mutters,
  • QUESTIONS BY THE RECORDER
Q. Might not Lieut. Cook have given an order to Major Reno and you not know it?
A. He could have done it.
Q. How long was it after Major Reno halted his command and deployed it till the command left the timber?
A. I judge about 20 minutes.
Q. You have- scouted that country over; describe it from Major Reno’s position on the hill down the stream, to the place where General Custer’s battlefield was.
A. I don’t consider it as easy country to go through when you get to the creek. It is a deep creek; what we cull a bad—land creek, with cut banks and hard to get through unless the Indians or the buffalo had made trails through it.
Q. How would a command in passing over it the first time go down?
A. In single file.
Q. Would you keep near the river or head it off at the best place?
A. I would keep near the river myself.
Q. Describe the country from there on,
A. It is rolling hills; some deep cuts, but easy to go over. It is a rise I call it from this creek to the place where General Custer and the men with him lay.
Q. Describe the ravine “H” if there is one there.
A. I don’t know that I could describe that. I did not pay much attention to the field. I was on the hill where General Custer lay the next year; but my business was to scout the country thoroughly for 10 or 12 miles around for the men that were never found.
  • QUESTIONS BY MAJOR RENO
Q. The ravine you speak of is lower down the river than “B”?
A. That place said to be a ford, is at the mouth of a creek that comes in there,
Q. You were not attached to any company, but were on detached duty?
A. Yes sir.
  • QUESTIONS BY THE COURT
Q. Were you over the field immediately after the battle?
A. No sir, I was sent down with a company of the 2d Cavalry into the Indian camp to help destroy what was left; and that company went through the creek just where the 7th Cavalry were burying their dead, and then went back into the hills.
Q. Where did you cross?
A. Right under the hill that General Custer lay on. There is a crossing there. I should say the Indians crossed there.
Q. Did you notice that place “B” on the right side of the river?
A. I was there the next year. I judged when I was there that what they called the watering place was at the mouth of that creek.
Q. Why do you conclude there was no fighting done there?
A. Because it was so near to where I was that I should have heard the firing more plainly.
Q. Do you know whether there was a ford there?
A. The next year there was a good ford there, right in the vicinity of the mouth of the creek.
Q. A command moving from above there, how would it get to the place where the bodies were found afterwards, with a view to getting a good route?
A. It was easy only at one place, where that creek came in; and they could cross at the mouth of it where I was myself.
Q. From your knowledge of the country; from the point where the commands separated, what was the probable route of General Custer, or have you any idea in regard to that? What trail do you think he took, and did he come to this watering place or strike the river lower down?
A. I should think they would come to the river to get around easy. There was a swale that led to the creek and then they could follow the creek down.
Q. Were there any evidences that that was the trail General Custer’s command took?
A. I did not go over it till the next year and can’t say.
Q. What evidences of fighting did you see anywhere on that field afterwards’:
A. I was not over it at that time, only to go across the river opposite there.
Q. Did you find any soldiers bodies over in the Indian village or see any?
A. No sir.

The witness then retired. Captain J. S. Payne, 5th Cav. a witness called by the recorder, and being first duly sworn to testify the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, testified as follows:

  • QUESTIONS BY THE RECORDER
Q. State your name, rank, regiment and where serving.
A. My name is J. S. Payne. I am captain of the 5th cavalry, and I am now on leave of absence, sick.
Q. Please state whether you have made any measurements of distances on what is known as the Custer battle-field or the battle-field of the Little Big Horn river. If so, when, and what measurements did you make?
A. I made one measurement upon this field, upon the 22d day of last August, It was a measurement of the distance from the point commonly known as the spot where General Custer was killed, to the position upon the hill known as Reno’s position, where he was entrenched.
Q. Were there evidences there at that time of its having been an entrenched position?
A. Yes, air.
Q. What were the evidences also that the place that you measured from was the place where General Custer fell?
A. It was unmistakably the spot where a struggle had taken place. The bones of men and horses were there, and it was the extreme northern limit of the battle-field.
Q. What was the distance between those two points as measured by you?
A. Four miles one hundred and sixty yards.
Q. How did you make the measurement?
A. The measurement was made by practically chaining; that is, we used lariats which were tied together; and the distance was measured off by stakes, with the exception of about a third or a half mile up at the upper end - that is, nearer Reno’s position - that was not measured quite so accurately. It was measured from horseback, night was coming on and the time was limited.
Q. In making that measurement, state whether you measured in a straight line or followed a route which might be a practicable route for a column?
A. It met both of those conditions. The line was practically a straight line, and at the same time it was a practicable route. The deviation from a right line was very slight.
Q. Did you make any other measurements?
A. No other measurements.
Q. Look on this map and observe the point “B” near a creek that appears to put in there, and state how near you came to that point, and whether you can fix it.
A. That watering place, as it is called, was not upon the line I measured. That is at the mouth of what we call Muddy creek. That is, it is a dry wallow that evidently, at certain seasons of the year, is full of water. It breaks through the bluff, and empties into the Little Big Horn at that point. I made no reference to that point in my measurement. My line, from the point where Custer was killed, passed a little lower down on the bluffs than the trail, and then practically in a straight line.
Q. Did you see any other evidences of that field of battle at the time that you were there?
A. Nothing except the bones of horses and parts of the bones of the men on the Custer battle-field, and one or two pieces of human bones that I found scattered in the grass on the left bank in the bottom.
  • QUESTIONS BY MAJOR RENO
Q. Did you observe the river at or about that watering-place?
A. Yes, sir. I noticed that. I watered my horse there.
Q. State what is the character of the ground on each side of the river there?
A. The banks are not quite so high there as they are at points higher up the stream. I crossed the river above at two points. The bank on either side of the river at this watering place, presents no serious obstacle to fording. It is not a good ford, but it is a practicable ford, such as cavalry are accustomed to use on the plains.
Q. What was the character of the country where you found the human bones on Custer’s battle-field, and state whether it was well adapted to a prolonged defense, or otherwise?
A. Extending from the point where General Custer’s body was found, in a south westerly direction, is a “back-bone”, as we call it on the plains, very narrow; and I think about six hundred yards long. To the right, and toward the upper end of this “back-bone”, the country falls away into slight ravines and depressions, and more or less little knolls. The knoll where Captain Calhoun’s company was found is about the highest point in the immediate vicinity. It commanded the country on either side with in the limit, perhaps, of rifle shot; but I would hardly call it a good defensible position against Indians.
Q. Upon the hypothesis that there was a very large body of Indians in that neighborhood, what facility, if any, would a command of two hundred men have for making a prolonged defense on that line? Say there were fifteen hundred Indians.
A. Well sir, I should say their case was a hopeless one.
Q. Could their resistance be continued through any length of time?
A. I think not. The ground lies so that the enemy, lying around encircling that position, could fire upon the troops without any danger of firing into each other. I noticed that specially.
Q. Suppose you refer to “D” and the country intervening between that and “E”.
A. The country is comparatively unobstructed through there. There is a ravine that does not seem to be indicated here. It is off some distance. It was a slight one and would not afford much cover; and in my opinion had but slight reference to the defensibility of that position.

Does the point “D” offer, from the character presented in 1878, any advantageous position for defense against a large number of Indians?

A. No sir, there is no cover for troops.
Q. Does the country between “D” and “E” present any facilities for defense?
A. No sir, I think not against a largely superior force,
Q. State if you made any test with regard to hearing the noise of a gun dis charged at “E” when you were near that point of timber at “C”?
A. No sir.
Q. Do you know whether any guns were fired at the point “E” while you were at the point “C”?
A. Only from hearsay.
Q. What was the nature of the evidence then received that there had been firing at “G” or about that point, while you were at “C”?
A. What I refer to was not at that point, but while descending the hill down into the valley. As I went into camp I heard some of the men talking. I don’t even remember who they were, but I heard them talking about having fired guns over on the battle-field.
Q. Did you hear them?
A. I did not. I did not hear them discuss it, but merely allude to it. What was the state of the atmosphere on that day?
A. It was clear the first day I was there. It was clear the day the firing is supposed to have been done.
  • QUESTIONS BY THE RECORDER
Q. In what direction was the wind blowing?
A. I don’t remember positively, but I think there was little or no wind blowing. If there was, it was so slight as not to be appreciable.
Q. As to the point ‘W” being a practicable ford for cavalry to cross, do you mean to say it had the appearance of having always been a practicable ford or only at the time you were there?
A. When I use the term practicable ford, I do it to indicate my opinion that a cavalry column could cross there, as we cross a great many streams on the plains that we had never crossed before. I do not mean there was a well-defined ford there, because there was not, even when I watered my horse there.
Q. In regard to a number of men on the hill resisting a large number of Indians, and the probability that they could not resist long; how long could one hundred men [Probably an error in transcription, as Custer had some two hundred men in his command. W.A.G.] with one hundred rounds of ammunition each, successfully resist say one thousand Indians? They necessarily go down in thirty minutes, or would it necessarily last two hours or more?
A. That, I think, would depend upon the enemy, and not upon them particularly. If the enemy pushed them, I think it would be a question of a very few moments. I should think it would be a question of a very short time, with as large a body of Indians as has been mentioned - between fifteen hundred and two thousand.
Q. You state that in this position up there, there appeared to be no cover for troops, and that therefore this one hundred men could not success fully make any resistance against that number of Indians?
A. Comparatively none, I said.
  • QUESTIONS BY MAJOR RENO
Q. State what, in your judgment, was the length of time that a column of the size that General Custer had (at) the place where it was, and surrounded and attacked as it was, lasted?
A. The estimates of the number of Indians range so widely that my answer would depend somewhat upon which estimate I took to answer the question.
Q. Take that number of Indians which, upon examination, has recommended itself to your mind as more likely representing the size of the hostile force.
A. I should suppose that there were about two thousand five hundred Indians there from the best opinion I could form from the various accounts; and I hardly feel qualified to answer a question of that sort; but I should think it would take but a very few minutes to dispose of his command twenty or thirty, somewhere from thirty minutes to three-quarters of an ‘hour, supposing that he had two hundred men.

The witness then retired. Lieutenant L. R. Hare, 7th cavalry, a witness called by the recorder and being first duly sworn to testify the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, testified as follows:

  • QUESTIONS BY THE RECORDER
Q. State your name, rank, regiment, and where serving?
A. My name is L. R. Hare; I am first lieutenant of the 7th United States Cavalry serving at Fort
A. Lincoln.
Q. State what duty you were on on the 25th and 26th of June, 1876; where and with what command?
A. I was serving with the 7th cavalry. I was on duty with the scouts under Lieut. Varnum, Lieut. Colonel G
A. Custer was in command of the 7th cavalry.
Q. Was Major Reno with that command, and if so in what capacity?
A. He was with the command in the capacity of Major of the regiment, second in rank to General Custer,
Q. State whether or not Major Reno had command of a separate column on the 25th and 26th of June, 1876?
A. He had command of a battalion of three companies a portion of the time.
Q. Did that column push ahead of General Custer’s column’: If so state by whose order and the circumstances that gave rise to the order.
A. Colonel Reno’s battalion went ahead of General Custer’s about five miles from where Colonel Reno crossed the Little Big Horn. It was done by General Custer’s order.
Q. State what gave rise to that order.
A. My attention had been called to some Indians ahead by our scouts, and I spoke to General Caster about it. He told me to take the Indian scouts and go ahead and he would follow. The Indians refused to go and he ordered them dismounted; and turned around to Adj. Cook and told him as the Indians would not go ahead, to order Major Reno with his battalion ahead.
Q. State whether this was near the Indian tepee on that bank of the river?
A. It was within one hundred yards of this tepee and about five miles from the river.
Q. What did Major Reno and his command do on receipt of the order?
A. They started ahead immediately at an increased gait. It was a fast trot.
Q. How long was the command in reaching the river?
A. Twenty or twenty-five minutes.
Q. State what the command did upon arriving at the river. Was there any halt or stoppage of the head of the column?
A. There was a halt of the head of the column, and some of the men were watering their horses when I passed them. I was delayed some time and did not pass them till I reached the ford. When I reached there, some of the men were watering and some were halted.
Q. Where was it that you first say any body of mounted Indians or warriors?
A. From the top of a little knoll about two hundred yards from this tepee. I saw forty or fifty Indians on a rise between us and the Little Big Horn. They had evidently discovered us, for they disappeared right away. When I came down to the ford, I saw Major Reno on the right bank. I merely glanced at him. He was standing there.
Q. After crossing the river, state whether you saw any hostile Indians; if so, when and what they were doing and in what number?
A. I crossed the stream and rode out to the edge of the timber. I could see some Indians driving in some ponies downstream and to my left. I was at the edge of the timber long enough to fix my saddle-blanket, and when I mounted, the head of the column was coming out of the edge of the timber. I rode off three or four hundred yards in front of the column and to the left; and shortly after, the command left the edge of the timber and formed in column by bugle-call - that is, I heard a bugle-call or a trumpet-call. The command moved down the valley to within a short distance of the timber, and it was there dismounted and a skirmish line was thrown out. Up to the time the command was dismounted, there were probably fifty or more Indians riding up and down in front and firing. As soon as the skirmish line was dismounted, four or five hundred Indians came out of a cooley which was about four hundred yards in front of us. Those Indians moved down to the left and rear,
Q. How far were you ahead of the command when it halted, and what view did you have of the Indian village?
A. I could see the top of the tepees at the upper part of the village saw probably 400 or 500 tepees.
Q. What position did you have in reference to the line?
A. A little in front and probably 200 yards to the left, near the foot-hills.
Q. State whether during the time you were coming down the valley, any Indians were moving out towards Major Reno’s command that you saw?
A. They were riding their ponies around in front stirring up a dust, and there was a big dust in the village.
Q. Did any Indians appear to be advancing towards him before the command halted?
A. They would ride up and back again - back and forth.
Q. Was his movement down the bottom opposed by any Indians? Were there any Indians between him and the point where the command was deployed?
A. If there were any, they were very few.
Q. When the command halted, how near were the Indians to the position you were in?
A. Not over 300 yards - probably not over 200.
Q. What was the nature of the fire when the command halted; from how many Indians and how near?
A. As fast as they came out of the cooley they opened fire on the command from their horses. They would ride around and fire as they went.
Q. Riding around where?
A. To the left; they would go out in the foot-hills and come down again.
Q. Was that the principal move the Indians appeared to be making?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Did any large body of Indians remain in front of the line?
A. Yes sir; during the time we were in the bottom, there were always Indians in front - that is, downstream.
Q. How far were the Indians, and in what numbers, that engaged Major Reno’s line that was in position in the bottom there?
A. There were different numbers. They kept running about all the time changing position. I estimate that there were 200 Indians in his front constantly - probably more.
Q. Go on and describe all that occurred within your range, in reference to the disposition of the troops, the orders given by Major Reno, the movements of the Indians, up to and including the time the command left the timber or woods,
A. I did not hear Major Reno give any order while I was in the bottom. The Indians worked around to our rear, and the first I knew that we were going to leave there, my man came to me with my horse and told me they were leaving. The left of the skirmish line was thrown back - I don’t know by what tactical movement it was executed; but the left of the line was thrown back to the vicinity of the timber.
Q. Where did you go then?
A. I stayed in one place. I sat down on the right of the line near the edge of the timber, where I first came in; and I was there during the entire time. I had no command. The Indians had all left me, and I sat there, firing an occasional shot when I got a chance.
Q. State if you were as near or nearer to the Indians than the troops generally?
A. Probably a little nearer.
Q. State if you had as good a view from your position as the others had?
A. No, I would not have as good a view as the troops farther out on the line.
Q. After they swept into the timber, how then?
A. I would have as good a view as anybody.
Q. State what notice you had, if any, that the command was going to leave the timber, or how you happened to go?
A. My man, leading my horse, came to me and said the command was leaving. That was all the notice I had of it.
Q. What would have been the result if your man had not come to you with that intelligence at that time; would you have joined the command or been left in the timber?
A. I should probably have been left in the timber.
Q. Who was that man?
A. Private Clare of Co. “K”. He was killed.
Q. While Major Reno’s command was at or near the timber before you left, how near did the Indians approach it and in what numbers? I mean in anything like a body or force?
A. They covered the ground from about 200 to 250 yards and to the foothills in front and to the left. They were scattered all over as Indians usually are.
Q. From your position, having the means of knowing what was going on, what would you estimate as the average number of Indians that engaged Major Reno’s command there?
A. They would fire and ride around and fire again. What do you estimate the average number firing?
A. It would be a very loose guess. If one fourth of them fired constantly, then I would say 250 were firing all the time; because I would say there were 1000 Indians there.
Q. What was the character of the firing; did it come from 1000 at a time, or only from a part of that number?
A. Only from a part,
Q. Bow many?
A. I would say about 200.
Q. State if you saw Major Reno any time after the command was halted and before it retreated, and what orders did he give, if any.
A. I only saw him once moving down the line about 50 yards off. I heard him give no orders. He was then dismounted,
Q. From the time the command was first halted and deployed as skirmishers, how long was it till the command left the timber on the retreat?
A. Between 30 and 40 minutes,
Q. Go on and describe what you saw of the movements of the command on the retreat, from the time it left the timber till it got to the crossing of the river. State everything you saw and heard, and every circumstance connected with it that was brought to your knowledge, When I rode onto the bench, the three companies were individually together - well closed up, The companies seemed to be moving independent of each other, They formed the three angles of a triangle; A company on one side, G company on another, and M company on the other, and they were going at a fast gallop when I first saw them; and I thought at first it was a charge; but after I had gone some fifteen or twenty yards I saw they were making for the bluff. On the other side, I caught up with them at the crossing. There was considerable disturbance and confusion there, and for that reason I went below and jumped my horse into the stream, off a bank about six or eight feet high.
Q. State what the hostile Indians were doing during that retreat. On which side did they approach the troops, if at all?
A. I knew of none being on the left flank. They were scattered along on the right flank, from 50 to 100 yards away.
Q. State whether any troops covered the retreat, if so what troops and by whose order?
A. I don’t know of any
Q. Did anybody appear to be in the rear trying to keep the Indians back?
A. I saw no efforts of that kind.
Q. Was there any effort made at the river to keep the Indians back, or was it every one get over as soon as possible?
A. There were no troops covering the crossing that I saw.
Q. Where were the hostile Indians at the time the troops were crossing, and what were they doing?
A. There were Indians on the right flank from 75 to 100 yards off, firing into the command as it crossed,
Q. Was their fire returned then by any troops at all?
A. I don’t remember that it was.
Q. If it had been, would you not have noticed it?
A. I would,
Q. State if any large force of Indians pursued the troops to the river; if so, in what numbers?
A. They were scattered all along from the timber to the river. I supposed those in the rear, as soon as the command got away, would follow it up; but after I got on the hill I looked back, and there were not a great many Indians in the bottom.
Q. What became of the great mass of the force?
A. After we got on the hill, probably 100 remained about there until after Captain Benteen came up.
Q. State how that movement from the timber to the river impressed you at the time - as a charge, a retreat, or a run?
A. I did not think it was a run; but it was a pretty fast retreat.
Q. Now state whether any trumpet or bugle calls were sounded in the timber after the troops took position there, before the command left the timber?
A. I did not hear any.
Q. Was any sounded to warn the command whet the movement was to be?
A. If there was, I did not hear it.
Q. If there had been, were you in a position to hear it?
A. I think I should have heard it.
Q. Describe the movement of the command from the crossing to the hill top. State if you saw Major Reno and what he was doing - at orders or instructions did he give at that time?
A. I did not get up the hill till most of the men had got to the top. When I got there, Captain Moylan was completing the skirmish line. Major Reno was standing there: I heard him give no orders, but he was standing there where he could supervise the formation.
Q. Was there an engagement going on at the time, or had it stopped?
A. There were a few shots being fired from the Indians on the right bank. They killed 3 or 4 men near there.
Q. Were they killed going from the crossing to the hill top, or after they got on the hill top?
A. Our contract surgeon was killed near the top of the hill. The man I had with me was killed near the edge of the river,
Q. Where did the fire come from?
A. The Indians on the bluffs, on the right bank of the river.
Q. What was the condition of the command at the time it reached the top of the hill; whether demoralized and disheartened, or the reverse?
A. Well, the command was necessarily scattered, but I don’t think it was demoralized, from the very prompt way in which they rallied and formed, Before I got to the top of the hill I heard Lieut. Varnum calling to the men to halt; and when I got there) Captain Moylan was forming his skirmish line. I didn’t hear Major Reno say anything,
Q. What would have been the effect on Major Reno’s commend, had the Indians to the number of a thousand followed it to the hill-top?
A. I think they would have got them all, if they had staid long enough. I don’t think they could have got them all, though, before Colonel Benteen got up.
Q. Do you think a command of seventy-five men was in a condition to have resisted all these Indians until Colonel Benteen came up?
A. Yes, sir; I do. They could have got ammunition out of their saddle-pockets,

Q„ Was or was not that command, in view of its condition and losses, less able to protect itself there than in the timber it had left?

A. No, sir. The position on the hilt was a much better position than the position in the timber.
Q. Then with a loss of about 30 men going across the bottom, you think the command was in a better condition there to resist the attack of 1000 Indians than it would have been in the timber without the loss of those men?
A. I think the difference in the position would more than compensate for the difference in the number of men.
Q. I am not asking with reference to Captain Benteen’s command, but that particular command of Major Reno.
A. Yes sir. That is my opinion.
Q. How long, in your opinion, with the ammunition Major Reno’s command then had, could it have kept the Indians off in the timber?
A. If they had charged on him, the command could not have stood it but a few minutes; but Indians don’t do that. I think we could have stood them off about 30 minutes by using the ammunition judiciously.
Q. How much ammunition were the men ordered to carry; and was the order general in reference to the entire command?
A. As I remember it, the order to the company commanders was for each man to carry his belt full of cartridges awl enough in his saddle bags to make it 100.
Q. You have stated you were in the timber in as close proximity to the Indians as any other part of the command. State how many rounds of ammunition you expended firing at the Indians
A. About a dozen.

Then at 2 P. M, the Court adjourned to meet at 11 o’clock A. M, Tomorrow, Tuesday, January, 28, 1879.



Author Page


  • Category

History


QR Code
QR Code reno_court_of_inquiry_day13 (generated for current page)
 

Advertise with Anonymous Ads