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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

SIXTEENTH DAY

Chicago, Illinois

January 30, 1879

11 o’clock A.M.

The court met pursuant to adjournment.

Present

All members of the Court, the Recorder, and Major Reno and his Counsel.

The proceedings of the last session were read, corrected and approved.

Lieutenant Charles DeRudio recalled by the recorder testified as follows:

  • QUESTIONS BY THE RECORDER
Q. State whether you saw the column of General Custer, or any portion of it, at any time after Major Reno parted from him at the abandoned tepee. If so where, and what effect did what you saw have on you?
A. I did not see any part of the column of General Custer. The only observation I made was while I was in the woods. General Custer, Lieutenant Cook and another man I could not recognize came to the highest point of the bluff and waved their hats, and made motions like they were cheering and pretty soon disappeared. I judge by that that probably his column was behind the bluff.
Q. Where was that?
A. It was on the highest point on the right bank of the creek, just below where Dr. DeWolf was killed.
Q. Did you see the place generally known as the point where Captain Weir went to?
A Yes sir, I saw it.
Q. Was General Custer on that point?
A. No; on one nearer the river, and the highest point on that side. Where I saw General Custer, the river comes right under the bluff. The bluff comes in very narrow there, hardly wide enough for a horse to stand on. In my opinion this map is not correct as to this line of bluffs.
Q. How far was it from where you were to where you saw General Custer?
A. I judge he was 1000 yards from where I was.

THE WITNESS THEN DESIGNATED ON THE MAP BY THE FIGURE “7” ABOUT THE POINT WHERE HE SAW GENERAL CUSTER ON THAT OCCASION.

Q. About how far do you think it was form the point on the bluff occupied by Major Reno?
A. I think it could not have been more than 5 or 600 yards. It was a higher point, but lower down on the river.
Q. Was it the highest point down the stream?
A. Yes sir; and upstream too it was the highest point around there. I went on the top of it afterwards on the 27th with Captain Benteen.
Q. When was it you saw those men?
A. Four or five minutes before Major Reno retreated. I was looking closely to the right and the left, expecting to see one or other of the battalions coming to join us.
Q. What effect had that on you?
A. I supposed General Custer’s command was coming down some of those cooleys, and was watching for it, but did not see it; and as pretty soon after that the fire began on the other side of the village, I argued that General Custer went to the rear of the village, to attack it that way
Q. Do you think General Custer, from the position he occupied at the time you saw him, could take in the whole situation of the Indian village?
A. Yes sir; I think he could take a pretty good view of our position, at all events.
Q. Do you think he could see the village?
A. He could see a part of it. He could see the village as far as the conformation of the ground would permit him.
Q. You having seen him there, and having heard the firing soon after, which you believed pertained to his command, where in your opinion was the first attack made by General Custer on the Indians?
A. I believe it was at the point marked “B”. I believe he was met there by the Indians and started for a position over the hill, and the Indians followed him up.
Q. State whether you believe General Custer moved down with the intention of attacking the village, and with the expectation that Major Reno was still holding the Indians in check in front of the village
A. When I first saw him cheering us, I expected him to come and join us; but not seeing him come, I expected he was looking for a place to ford the river down those bluffs; and pretty soon Major Reno retreated, and soon after that I heard the firing. I expected that General Custer had attacked the village on the other side.
Q. State in your opinion as an officer, whether an attack by General Custer as you have described was an effective support of Major Reno in his attack on that place
A. If the command to Major Reno was to hold that place, it would probably be an effectual assistance.
Q. You state you were in the timber where Major Reno had taken position until about 9 o’clock that night?
A. Yes sir.
Q. State if that timber could have been held with the number of men he had and how long?
A. He could have held it as long as he had ammunition.
Q. If the ammunition had been handled coolly and carefully, and had not been fired away rashly and at random, how long would that much ammunition have lasted?
A. Probably 3 or 4 hours, depending on circumstances.
Q. State if you know, what would have been the effect of an attack by General Custer on the Indians rear, had Major Reno’s position (been held?) for a quarter of an hour?
A. I could not say, because I did not know the force that General Custer would have to attack there.
Q. You don’t know that all of the Indians were attacking major Reno, or that a part of them were down below watching General Custer?
A. I think they were pretty well divided: half watching Major Reno and half General Custer.
Q. State why you went back to get the guidon
A. Because I did not think that was the place to leave it, and I did not think there was any danger in going to get it; and I did not know then that our rear was cut off so suddenly as that.
Q. Did you then, and do you now, think you did your duty in going back to get that guidon?
A. Yes sir; I think it the duty of every soldier to preserve his colors even at the risk of his life.
  • QUESTIONS BY MAJOR RENO
Q. How far from the point “B” do you fix the place where you saw General Custer?
A. I judge it was 3 miles or probably 3 ½.
Q. How far is it from the point “B” to the point “E”?
A. I should say probably a mile or a little more.
Q. Looking at this map, is that the way you distribute distance?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Is it 3 times as far from Major Reno’s position to B as it is from B to E?
A. Yes sir, I think so; at least it is twice as far.
Q. What is the distance between where you saw General Custer and the point “B”?
A. I judge between 3 and 3 ½ miles. This map don’t give the correct distance. I think I went over the ground on the morning of the 27th with captain Benteen, and followed the trail of General Custer down the cooley to the ford and from that ford up over the bluff.
Q. Then how far do you say it is from the point B to the point E?
A. I judge not more than a mile and a half at the furthest. When we went through that country, we did not go in a direct line – we went looking for dead bodies.
Q. Where were you when you saw General Custer?
A. I was standing on the right hand side of the creek in the timber.
Q. Who were with you?
A. 5 or 6 men of Company “A”.
Q. Were any officers with you?
A. Not that I remember.
Q. What were you doing?
A. Firing into the 30 or 40 Indians coming down.
Q. How many shots did you fire?
A. I did not fire any at that time. I had fired two shots from my revolver a short time before.
Q. Where was Major Reno at that time?
A. I did not see him at that time.
Q. Did you tell him that you had seen General Custer at that point?
A. Not at that time.
Q. Was he on the skirmish line?
A. I think probably he was looking over the command in the woods.
Q. How long was it after you reached the timber before you saw General Custer?
A. Probably 5 or 6 minutes after I reached the place I was in.
Q. How long after the command reached the timber did you reach that place?
A. Probably a minute or a minute and a half.
Q. Then six or seven minutes after you got to the timber, you saw General Custer?
A. Yes sir.
Q. How long did the command remain there till it retired to the hill?
A. Probably 10 or 12 minutes after the whole command went into the timber.
Q. How long was Major Reno on the skirmish line?
A. The skirmish line was 10 or 12 minutes outside before they were withdrawn into the timber.
Q. How long was the line on the plain before you saw General Custer?
A. It was five or six minutes.
Q. How long did you remain in that position after you saw General Custer?
A. Five or six minutes after I saw General Custer, the line withdrew.
Q. How long was that before it retired from the timber?
A. 5 or 6 minutes.
Q. 10 or 11 minutes before it retired from the timber you saw General Custer on the opposite side of the river?
A. No sir; I saw General Custer 5 or 6 minutes before Major Reno retired from the timber.
Q. How long did you allow him to go from the timber to the top of the hill?
A. I could not tell you, because when I came out on the south side of the river, the command had gone some distance. Some of the men had crossed the river and some I could see going up the hill. I don’t think it took him 5 minutes to go across; not over six anyhow.
Q. Then in eleven minutes after you saw General Custer, where would he be?
A. Not very far unless he galloped.
Q. How far do you suppose he would be in 11 minutes after you saw him?
A. Probably a mile and a half or two miles, and probably more if he galloped fast.
Q. According to your estimate, how far would he be?
A. I judge a mile and a half; it depends on the gait he took.
Q. If he had travelled a mile and a half from the time you saw him and the time of Major Reno got to the top of the hill, would he not have been within sight of Major Reno’s command where it got on the top of the hill?
A. No sir. He would have been on the other divide down in a cooley.
Q. Do you state it as a fact that according to the trail General Custer took, that he could not be seen at a distance of a mile and a half from the position Major Reno took on the top of the hill?
A. Yes sir. He probably could not be seen 500 yards down there.
Q. In eleven minutes you think he could have gone a mile and a half?
A. I think so; but that depended on the gait he was going.
Q. It twenty minutes do you think he could have reached the point “B”?
A. Yes sir; if he had taken a gallop he could have reached there before that.
Q. In 20 minutes after you saw him, would he have time to have reached the point “B”?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Would he not have had time not only to reach there, but to have gone some distance beyond there?
A. I can’t answer your question unless I know the gait he was going at.
Q. You stated yesterday you heard the firing in 20 minutes after Major Reno’s command reached the hill.
Q. Did you not say 20 minutes yesterday?
A. I don’t think I did.
Q. What do you say now?
A. I say it was not more than 10 minutes, because the Indians stopped firing on Major Reno’s command when they saw Captain Benteen’s column, and soon after his column disappeared the firing commenced on the other side.
Q. Did you not say that the firing commenced about 20 minutes after major Reno’s command left the timber, and did not that same amount of time figure in the calculations of the questions I have put to you?
A. It was probably 20 minutes after Major Reno left the timber. I can’t tell the actual minutes; I judge from memory, that is all.
Q. If the firing had taken place in 20 minutes after Major Reno’s command left the timber, where would the firing indicate General Custer to have been?
A. At the time I thought he was on the side of the village – afterwards I saw that he was on the other side of the ford, because the first man was found 5 or 600 yards from the ford.
Q. Yet 20 minutes after major Reno left the timber, you heard firing which indicated that General Custer was below B?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Now if General Custer had a view of Major Reno’s command, did he not also have a view which indicated to him the extent of the village?
A. Part of the village he could see from that lace and part he could not.
Q. Could he not see a very large portion of the village?
A. Yes sir; he could see the largest part of the village.
Q. Could he not see enough to know it was a very large camp of Indians?
A. He knew that, before; he had been told that it was a very large village.
Q. How long did he remain at that very high point where you saw General Custer?
A. Not more than a minute.
Q. Who was with him?
A. There were 3 together; one was Lieutenant Cook, the other one I could not recognize. I don’t know whether it was another officer or an orderly. I recognized General Custer and Lieutenant Cook by their dress; they had on blue shirts and buckskin pants.
Q. What was the color of the buckskin pants?
A. Buckskin color.
Q. Were they colored at all?
A. No sir.
Q. You were 1000 yards away?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Did you have any glass?
A. No sir, General Custer had my glass.
Q. Do you mean to say that you could distinguish General Custer at that distance?
A. I could not only by knowing he was about there, and by recognizing his peculiar dress. He and Lieutenant Cook were the only ones who had blue shirts and no jacket and buckskin pants; and besides, Lieutenant Cook had an immense beard which could be recognized at that distance.
Q. Do you mean to say that at the distance of 1000 yards you could distinctly distinguish General Custer and Lieutenant Cook without a glass?
A. I did recognize them simply by their dress.
Q. Then General Custer saw Major Reno standing there with his skirmish line in front of that timber?
A. Yes sir; he had a regular Birdseye view of the whole thing?
Q. He saw the size of the village?
A. He saw part of it.
Q. He must have left that hilltop with that knowledge in his mind?
A. I don’t know about his knowledge. I was not there to think for him.
Q. As commander don’t you suppose he would observe what was there?
A. As commander I suppose he would observe everything that passed about him.
Q. He had an opportunity to reach that knowledge before he left the hill top?
A. I think so.
Q. Do you think he had any opportunity to change his knowledge of what Major Reno was doing before he reached the point “B”?
A. I don’t think he did. The formation of the country was down a deep cooley, and he could not see anything but what was in view there, before got to the point “B”.
Q. The point “B” was the proper place to cross was it?
A. It was the first place to cross.
Q. If he wanted to support Major Reno’s column that was an opportunity to do it?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Was there a chance there to give an active support to Major Reno?
A. There was a chance to attempt to cross.
Q. Was there any evidence that there had been an engagement there?
A. No sir.
Q. Did you not state that part of the men in the timber were beyond your control?
A. They were soon after they saw the skirmish line going out.
Q. Do you mean to say that you can regulate the number of shots by men scattered in the timber, against an enemy that does not advance in line but comes up in groups at irregular distances
A. Not very well.
Q. Is it within the power of any officer, no matter how good, to control the discretion of cavalry men firing at different ranges at Indians?
A. It is very hard under such circumstances to do so.
Q. You testified that they expended between 30 and 4o rounds of ammunition?
A. Yes sir.
Q. 40 rounds was almost half the ammunition that the men had when they went into the timber?
A. Yes sir; but I said most of the ammunition was expended in open skirmish line.
Q. You went into the timber to fire at Indians?
A. Yes sir.
Q. You fired at them from the timber?
A. Yes sir.
Q. How long had you been in the timber?
A. I should say I was there altogether 10 or 12 minutes.
Q. How long, in your judgment, would 100 rounds of ammunition last, if during the time the men were on the skirmish line and the time they were in the timber 40 rounds had been expended, bearing mind that you went with the soldiers to fire, not from the line, but from the timber at Indians?
A. The men in the timber were firing slow and only when they saw a good chance to hit some Indians. I don’t think the men that were there fired over three or four shots apiece while I was there. They were perfectly covered and there was no danger of being shot, and they took time to fire.
Q. How long do you suppose 100 rounds of ammunition would have lasted in the timber?
A. Probably 2 hours, at all events.
Q. A hundred rounds would last that long?
A. The balance that was left would, if it had been properly shot.
Q. Would it be the fault of the commanding officer if the soldier’s ammunition was not properly used?
A. It would be the fault of both the inexperience of the men and the officer not being on that part of the field at the time. I heard Major Reno on the line tell the men to be careful of their ammunition. In the timber it would be difficult for officers to know.
Q. Are not the companies not [sic] under the control of company officers and is not the commanding officer like a major, in command of the whole body of men? [The repetition of the word “not” an obvious armor of transcription. W.A.G.].
A. He is.
Q. Is it not the duty of company officers as much as of the commanding officer to see that ammunition is properly expended?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Then when you speak of the fault of officers, you do not refer to Major Reno alone?
A. No sir.
Q. Do you mean to say that it is within the control of company of officers to prevent the men from improperly and rashly using their cartridges when the command is separated and attacked by Indians at different ranges? I ask you this as a military officer.

A Every officer had a certain number of men under his control, and could certainly use his influence and prestige over the men to make them be careful of their ammunition.

Q. Do you really think it is possible for them to prevent the men, some of them new recruits, from firing indiscriminately?
A. It was hard to do, but it could be possible.
Q. Did you ever know it to be done?
A. I kept the fire of the men that were with me.
Q. Did you give them any orders?
A. Yes sir; I told them not to fire unless they were sure to hit someone.
Q. Were they men of your company?
A. They were men of “A” Company to which I was attached. Had only been with it two or three days.
Q. Had you ordered those men to go there?
A. No sir; I followed them in there. I took that position and told the men to be careful of their ammunition and not to fire until it was necessary.
Q. You allowed those men to leave their places without orders?
A. They went in there.
Q. Did you order them back?
A. I ordered them to stand their ground.
Q. Did you leave with the permission or direction of your commanding officer?
A. The men left the line, and I was the last man out.
Q. You followed them out?
A. No sir; they went out and I went back to get the guidon.
  • QUESTIONS BY THE RECORDER
Q. In a flight or engagement what are officers and file closers for?
A. For the purpose of seeing that the men fire properly.
Q. Who are the file closers?
A. The Captain and Lieutenants.
Q. Any other men, and noncommissioned officers?
A. The sergeants.
Q. What is the duty of an officer in command of men; to fire himself or to regulate the fire of his men?
A. It is to regulate the fire of the men; the fire himself or to regulate the fire of his men?
Q. Did you ever go to the point where you saw General Custer?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Then from that point did you have such a view of the village as to see every Indian tepee?
A. When I was there the tepees were all gone.
Q. Could you see the ground that hand been occupied by the tepees?
A. No sir, not all of it.
Q. Could you from that point see everything that was going on in the timber?
A. Yes sir; I had a regular Birdseye view of it.
Q. Were you not on low ground in the bottom, and did you not see those men against the sky?
A. Yes sir; they were on the top of the bluff, and that was why I could recognize them.
Q. Can you recognize an object better by looking down or up?
A. Looking up.
Q. As regards the ford “B”, state whether it is nearer as regards the hostile village than major Reno’s position in the woods?
A. It was nearer.
Q. You stated that you were pleased that major Reno halted his command. Explain why you think the point “B” was a good place for General Custer to, to attack the Indian village?
A. Because it was a better crossing than where Major Reno crossed.
Q. You don’t mean it was easier for General Custer to get across with the Indians there?
A. No sir; only because it was a better crossing.
Q. How many rounds of ammunition could the men fire from their guns without heating them; that is, with that rapid firing?
A. Not a great man. I noticed that the men had to take their knives to extract cartridges after firing 8 or 10 rounds.
Q. State in fighting there with the Indians, how many good shots per minute a man could get at the enemy?
A. When the Indians were moving he would get but a very few shots; that is, with any degree of accuracy.
Q. Do you know of any Indians being killed there?
A. Yes sir. I saw two Indians killed in front of me, and I saw several wounded go back to the village. I saw some of the Indians on the open skirmish line drop off their ponies. Lieutenant Hare shot one.
  • QUESTIONS BY MAJOR RENO
Q. If the men had not hit the Indians would that be the fault of Major Reno?
A. No sir.
Q. Why did you not attempt to rally the men and keep them from going back out of the woods?
A. I did attempt to, but could not do it.
Q. Why did you allow those men to go?
A. They would not obey me, and the whole line was going out. If the whole line was not going out, I would probably have used force to stop the men. As it was, I did not feel justified in forcing the men to remain.
Q. You could not control those men?
A. No sir. Not at that time.
Q. You thought it was your duty to stay behind?
A. I think it is the duty of an officer on a retreat to be the last one out, and on a charge to be the first one.
Q. Do you think it was more important to get the guidon than to control the men?
A. No sir, but I thought it was my duty to get the guidon after it was abandoned
A. And allow the men to go out in disorder instead of restraining them?
Q. I have answered that and will not answer it any more.
  • ‘’’QUESTIONS BY THE COURT
Q. What was the nearest point, from all indications; you said (say?) that General Custer’s command approached the river?
A. The nearest point it approached the river was at the point “B”.
Q. Did you notice (at?) that place whether there was any attempt to cross?
A. No sir! I did not notice.
Q. There were other fords, were there?
A. Yes sir; there were several fords lower down the river. The regiment forded the river the day we left, below there.
Q. You think that was the point he approached the river first?
A. Yes sir. I noticed that two American horses had gone close to the water; the ground was clayey there and you could notice where two horses had gone down and turned to the right, and we followed their trail diagonally away from that ford.
Q. Where was the nearest signs of fighting?
A. The first man was found within 5 or 600 yards of that ford.
Q. Were there no evidences of fighting nearer than that?
A. No sir.
Q. Do you know the name of the man you told to get the guidon?
A. I don’t know. I was almost a stranger in the company, having been attached to it but 3 days before.

The witness then retired. The examination of Sergeant Davern was then resumed by the record as follows:

Q. Tell how you got your horse and why it was you left the timber?
A. Because the balance of the command had left he timber.
Q. Had you heard any notice or order given about leaving the timber?
A. No sir.
Q. Did you hear any calls in there?
A. No sir.
Q. Would you have heard any of the calls had they been sounded in the usual way?
A. I think I would.
Q. Tell about your going to the edge of the bank to join the command, and what occurred there. Did you have any difficulty in getting up the edge of the bank?
A. There was a horse tied to mine. I had no other difficulty.
Q. Where were the troops when you got out?
A. Running towards the river.
Q. Was there anybody with you then and if so, how many?
A. There was no person with me.
Q. Who was near you?
A. I met a sergeant of G Company when I got out of the woods, and gave him the lead horse I had.
Q. How far was the command away from you at that time, or could you see?
A. I saw part of the command running towards the river.
Q. About how far were they away when you got to the edge of the bank?
A. Some were about 10 yards away and some were down a good ways.
Q. Where did most of the command seem to be?
A. At the river, crossing it.
Q. And men were still coming out of the woods?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Did you see any Indians between you and the command or near there?
A. Yes sir.
Q. About how many?
A. I could not say. They kept going on the flanks at the head of the column.
Q. Tell what happened to you in going out from there
A. Between there and the river my horse fell as I was passing to G Company men who were dismounted. There were Indians on the left, and they made a rush for the G Company men, I thought. About that time my horse fell and I went over his head. I looked around and saw that my horse was getting up and I saw the G Company men were mixed up with the Indians. The Indians had run their ponies together and were dismounted. I rushed back and got on my horse and got away.
Q. Were the two men of G Company dismounted?
A. Yes sir, going on foot, running.
Q. Did you ever see those men after that?
A. I saw the bodies to two men down at that place afterwards.
Q. Tell what you did then
A. I got on my horse and got down to the river, and crossed it near Lieutenant Wallace. There were Indians on the right of the command firing at Lieutenant Wallace.
Q. When you got to the river, what were the men doing there?
A. Nothing – only trying to get out of the river. The opposite bank appeared to be closed up with men and horses.

Q How did they appear to be?

A. Trying to get out.
Q. Did they appear to be demoralized or a command retreating in good order?
A. They seemed to be retreating in as good order as could be expected. About that time Lieutenant Hodgson jumped his horse into the river, or his horse fell in and his horse got away from him. A trumpeter of M Company crossed the river at the same time, and he caught hold of his stirrups to help him out. I heard Lieutenant Hodgson speak to the trumpeter, but I could not hear what he said. Lieutenant Hodgson got out and that was the last I saw of him.
Q. Were the Indians firing into the command? If so, where were the Indians?
A. They were not.
Q. Did you see Indians close to the river?
A. Not after I got into the river.
Q. Did you see Indians firing into the men that were crossing?
A. Yes sir.
Q. How many Indians did you see near there?
A. I could not say.
Q. If there had been any body of troops trying to drive the Indians away, would you not have seen them?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Where did you cross the river – at the head or rear of the column?
A. In the rear of the column.
Q. Did you cross where the other men did?
A. No sir, I crossed a little below; it was a narrow passage up the opposite bluff.
Q. Why did you go below to cross?
A. The upper place was too crowded.
Q. As fast as the men got on the other side, what did they do?
A. They run on up the hill.
Q. Did you see Major Reno at that crossing? If so, what was he doing?
A. I did not see him there.
Q. Where did you go after crossing?
A. I went part of the way up the hill and topped there.
Q. Did the Indians follow the troops up the hill after they crossed over?
A. I saw two Indians over to the left and farther up the hill than I was.
Q. Did any of the Indians you saw in the bottom follow Major Reno’s column across the river?
A. No sir.
Q. What officer did you see as you were going up – the time you stopped?
A. I saw Lieutenant Wallace shoot across at some Indians who were killing a man three or four ridges from there. That hill was divided into ridges or water cuts.
Q. On which bank that I saw Lieutenant Wallace and the Indians both.
Q. The Indians were killing a man?
A. Yes sir; I found out afterwards it was Dr. DeWolf.
Q. When you got to the top of the hill did you meet any officer?
A. Yes sir, I saw Major Reno.
Q. What did he say to you, if anything?
A. I don’t recollect exactly. I think he asked me if I had any water. I said I had not and he gave me some.
Q. Did you hear any firing after you got on the hill?
A. The firing had ceased, only there were some scattering shots by the Indians on the left.
Q. Did you hear any firing from any other direction downstream anywhere?
A. Shortly after I got on the hill I did.
Q. Describe that firing
A. It was in volleys.
Q. Where did it seem to come from?
A. From downstream.
Q. How did you happen to hear it: did you go out to any point, or were you there with the others/.
A. On the hill where the others were.
Q. Was the balance of the command there?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Was the firing plain or faint?
A. It was not very distinct, but a person could distinguish it was firing.
Q. You would tell it was volleys?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Did you hear any firing between the volleys?
A. No sir.
Q. What did you see in the direction from which the fire was coming at the time?
A. I saw what I supposed to be Indians circling around in the bottom on the opposite side of the creek from where we had our fight, away down in the bottom.
Q. Could you tell from where you were on which side of the creek they were?
A. I might be deceived because there were so many bends in the creek.
Q. About how many Indians did you see?
A. There were a good many there.
Q. Were they raising much dust?
A. Yes sir, I called the attention of Captain Weir to it at the time.
Q. What did you say to him and what did he say to you?
A. I said to Captain Weir “That must be General Custer fighting down in the bottom.” He asked me where and I showed him. He said “Yes, I believe it is.”
Q. What did he do then?
A. Not anything.
Q. Where was Major Reno at that time?
A. I don’t know, he was somewhere on the hill.
Q. About how long was that after you got on the hill?
A. Maybe half an hour after.
Q. Refresh your memory about what was done by any part of the command right away after that firing was heard
A. Nothing was done.
Q. Had Captain Benteen got up with his column at the time you heard this firing and spoke to Captain Weir about it?
A. I think he must have been there.
Q. Did you see his column come up?
A. No, I did not; but I saw the pack train come up soon after I got on the hill.
Q. Do you know whether Captain Weir was in the bottom with you?
A. He was not.
Q. Whose command was he with?
A. Captain Benteen’s.
Q. Then he being there, you suppose Captain Benteen’s command was there?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Where was it you first saw Major Reno after crossing the stream on the retreat?
A. On the hill.
Q. Were there men coming up from the river at the time you came up?
A. There might be a few straggling up — some dismounted men came up after.
Q. Did you hear Major Reno give any orders to any one on the hill?
A. Not that I recollect.
Q. Do you recollect his giving an order to Lieutenant Hare or any other officer there?
A. 1 think he said something about going to look for Lieutenant Hodgson to some officer, I don’t know who it was.
Q. Where did Captain Weir go about the time you spoke to him, as you stated?
A. Nowhere.
Q. Where did the company go?
A. Nowhere.
Q. Do you remember whether Captain Weir moved his company down the stream?
A. Not at that time. He did later in the evening.
Q. How long after you spoke to him about the firing?
A. Over an hour.
Q. How long was that after the pack train came up?
A. Between one and two hours.
Q. Where did he go?
A. What I heard was, to open communication with General Custer.
Q. Do you mean two hours after you crossed the stream or two hours after you got on the hill?
A. Two hours after I got on the hill.
Q. Did the whole command go down?
A. Yes sir.
Q. At the same time?
A. Shortly after Captain Weir moved out.
Q. how soon after the pack train came up did the whole command move down?
A. About two hours after the advance of the pack—train came up.
Q. Were you sent to Captain Weir with any word?
A. No sir.
Q. Did you go to him that afternoon?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Who sent you?
A. He called me himself, and asked me to tell him the details of the fight in the bottom.
Q. Who did you report to after that?
A. Major Reno.
Q. What duty were you doing for him that afternoon?
A. I was his orderly - holding his horse.
Q. How long was it after Major Reno’s command halted and deployed, before it left the timber?
A. A half or three quarters of an hour.
Q. You say something about the advance of the pack train. What did it have?
A. Ammunition,
Q. How much ammunition did you fire while you were in the bottom?
A. About twenty rounds.
Q. Were you firing most of the time when you got a good chance?
A. Yes sir.
Q. How long did the firing last that you heard down the stream?
A. I heard it occasionally for about an hour and a half.
Q. Do you know what became of all those Indians after Major Reno started back on the hill?
A. I do not.
Q. Do you know in what direction they went?
A. I do not. I saw they had all left when we got on the hill.
Q. Did you notice in what direction they went?
A. I supposed they were the same Indians I saw circling round in the bottom.
Q. While you heard that firing in the bottom which you say lasted about an hour and a half, state if you saw any Indians watching Major Reno’s command on the hill?
A. I don’t recollect that I did.
Q. The command moved down a little ways with Captain Weir?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Tell what you know about the command going down there. What it did, and how long before it came back?
A. It did not go forward very far and it was probably fifteen minutes before it came back.
Q. were you with Major Reno at that time as his orderly?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Where did he go?
A. At the head of the command.
Q. Where was Captain Weir?
A. He was ahead.
Q. What did you do after you went down?
A. The column halted and Major Reno sent for Captain Weir.
Q. Then what was done?
A. We went back a short distance - threw out a skirmish line - the Indians were returning from the other side of Captain Weir, and his company had just time to form when they got back.
Q. Did they go back to near the place where Major Reno went when he first went on the hill?
A. A little to the right of that - I believe some of the companies occupied a position farther upstream.
Q. How near is your position as orderly, to the commanding officer?
A. Within calling distance.
Q. Do you usually hear what the orders are?
A. Sometimes I hear.
Q. State if you know what orders were given by Major Reno at the time you started back to take position?
A. I don’t know of and orders - I saw Major Reno and Captain Benteen talking together, but I don’t know what they said,
Q. How long have you been in the service?
A. Sixteen years.
Q. Tell what preparations were made there that you saw?
A. The companies were deploying in skirmish line - the pack animals removed into a depression in the hill - those were all the preparations that I saw.
Q. What were the Indians doing?
A. Closing up - advancing on the command.
Q. Did the fight begin about that time?
A. Yes sir,
Q. How long did it last that day?
A. Until dark,
Q. How long before dark did it commence?
A. A little before sundown - I don’t think it was an hour high.
Q. Do you know what time the sun sets in that latitude at that time of year?
A. No sir.
Q. About how many hours did the fight last there at that place that afternoon?
A. About 2 hours.
Q. Were you with Major Reno during that fight there?
A. No sir.
Q. Where were you?
A. He sent me to the depression on the hill with his horse and told me to remain there so that he would know where I was if he wanted his horse.
Q. Could you see him at all during that fight?
A. I could see him occasionally.
Q. Where did you see him?
A. At different places. The troops were formed in a kind of circle, and I saw him going to different parts of the line.
Q. How far was he away from that depression?
A. One part of the line was close to it, and I saw him there one time.
Q. How close was the line to that depression?
A. Within about 50 yards at one place.
Q. When did you report to Major Reno next?
A. At dark or shortly after.
Q. How long did you continue with him from that time on: what was he doing and what did you do?
A. He told me to go to his pack mule and get his bedding and fix it for him, and I did so.
Q. What did you do then?
A. I stopped there within 2 or 3 yards of him.
Q. Was that right after dark?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Where was that place?
A. It was close to the line.
Q. Was it in the depression or out of it?
A. It was in the depression.
Q. Did you make your bed there?
A. Yes sir.
Q. State what orders Major Reno gave you?
A. He told me to wait up till 12 o7clock and wake him, and then I could go to sleep.
Q. When did he tell you that?
A. When he laid down.
Q. When did he lay down?
A. I don’t know - it was a while after dark.
Q. What time was it?
A. I don’t know.
Q. How long was it after entire darkness or after the firing ceased?
A. It was quite a while - I can’t say how long. 1 must have been 2 hours.
Q. Do you think it was two hours after dark when Major Reno laid down?
A. Yes sir,
Q. Were you with Major Reno from dark till the firing ceased - all the time?
A. Not all the time. He would go away and come back occasionally before he laid down.
Q. Did you see him most of the time?
A. Yes sir.
Q. How long was he away from you at any one time between the times you speak of?
A. I could not say - he was not away any great length of time.
Q. As much as half an hour at any one time?
A. He might have been, but not anymore I think.
Q. After getting your blankets what did you do?
A. I went to sleep.
Q. When did you next see Major Reno?
A. Not till he had the trumpet sounded in the morning - I did not wake him up - I did not wake up myself.
Q. Were you with Major Reno the next day? If so, what occurred - state all the orders you heard hint give, and all you saw him do that day during the fight with the Indians?
A. I was not with him that day - I got permission that morning to go on the skirmish line. I saw him several times during the day as he was walking about the line, going from one part of the line to another.
Q. Was that while the firing was going on?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Was there anything else you saw him doing that day?
A. No sir.
Q. You were on the line the entire day till the fight was over?
A. Yes sir, except the times I went for water.
  • QUESTIONS BY MAJOR RENO
Q. What was your rank in the Army on the 25th of June 1876?
A. I was a Private.
Q. You have been connected with the service about 16 years?
A. Yes sir,
Q. You are an old soldier?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Do you remember a man named McIllargey?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Did you see him at or about the ford A as Major Reno was crossing to the timber?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Where did you see him?
A. I saw him recross the river, coming back from Major Reno’s command.
Q. Do you know where he was going?
A. I spoke to him as he was going across the river, and he said he was going to General Custer.
Q. Did he say what for?
A. I asked no further questions.
Q. Did he say who sent him?
A. No sir. I supposed Major Reno sent him.
Q. Do you know what position he occupied towards Major Reno - was he his striker?
A. Yes sir.
Q. By that you mean his body servant?
A. Yes sir.
Q. At what point did you see him?
A. Just crossing the ford on his way back.
Q. Did he afterwards join Major Reno?
A. No sir, I never saw him afterwards.
Q. With regard to firing in the timber - are you skilled with the carbine? Are you considered a good shot?
A. A tolerably good shot.
Q. Did you not fire more slowly than the other men?
A. Yes sir.
Q. You fired 20 rounds?
A. Yes sir,
Q. Did not you fire considerably slower than many of the men?
A. I believe I did,
Q. What was your duty on the 25th and 26th of June as orderly?
A. An orderly’s duties are to take orders from the commanding officer to the different company officers, and to carry messages from him to other officers.
Q. With regard to taking; care of Major Reno’s horse in the timber, what did he say to you about that?
A. Be said nothing to me about his horse.
Q. Was it not your duty to take his horse into the timber?
A. Yes sir; but the horse was led in by some person already.
Q. Was it not your duty as orderly to look after his horse?
A. Yes sir.
Q. When Major Reno left the timber he was mounted, was he not?
A. I suppose he was, I did not see him when I left.
Q. If you had been with his horse you would have known when he left the timber?
A. Yes sir.
Q. It was your duty as orderly to be with his horse?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Had he not a right to expect you to be with his horse in the timber that day?
A. Not at that time. I believe I went and reported to him at the timber - that is, I spoke to him.
Q. What did you do?
A. I went on the skirmish line myself.
Q. Did you have his permission?
A. No sir; I did not ask his permission at that time.
Q. You went there without his permission?
A. Yes sir.
Q. If you had been with his horse you would have known when he left the timber?
A. Yes sir.
Q. There was where you ought to have been according to your duty?
A. I don’t know; at that time, I was not there when he dismounted
Q. Where was Captain Benteen’s column when Adjutant Cook gave the order to Major Reno about going down and charging the Indians?
A. I did not see Captain Benteen’s command after the regiment was divided into columns.
Q. Where was Captain Benteen’s column at that time?
A. On the left bank of that little tributary of the Little Big Horn.
Q. How close to Major Reno?
A. I don’t know - I did not see him.
Q. Did you look for him?
A. I don’t know that I did.
Q. Had Captain Benteen parted from Major Reno or the main column before that order was given by Adjutant Cook?
A. Yes sir
Q. You think that Adjutant Cook came to Major Reno and gave the order?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Repeat in what way the order was liven?
A. “Girard comes and reports the Indian village three miles ahead and moving the General directs you to take your three companies and drive everything before you Colonel Benteen will be on your left and will have the same instructions.”
Q. How long before that had Captain Benteen left the column?
A. I don’t remember when the division was made into columns: whether it was shortly after we moved out of camp or not.
Q. Captain Benteen’s column was not in sight was it, at that time?
A. I don’t know, I did not see him.
Q. Are you sure Captain Benteen was in sight or out of sight?
A. From what I have learned since, I believe he was out of sight.
Q. Did you know at that time?
A. No sir.
Q. After Adjutant Cook gave that ore.er to Major Reno where did he go?
A. I don’t know where he went immediately after, A short time after, as the command started out, I saw him and Captain Keogh both with Major Reno.
Q. Did you see any person go in the direction of Captain Benteen’s column with any order?
A. No sir.
Q. Did Adjutant Cook go in that direction?
A. I. don’t know - he would not have had time to go and reach that column and then join Major Reno as soon as he did,
Q. Then at the time that order was brought to Major Reno, that Captain Benteen would be ordered to do the same as Majors Reno was, Captain Benteen was out of sight, at least you did not see him?
A. I did not see him.
Q. Where was that order given?
A. A short way from that Indian tepee.
Q. Above or below it?
A. Above it.
Q. Before you reached the tepee?
A. Shortly before - it could not have been more than 200 yards from the Indian tepee if it was that much.
Q. Was the command moving?
A. General Custer’s and Major Reno’s columns were halted.
Q. Were they on the same side of the creek?
A. Yes sir.
Q. On which side?
A. The right bank.
Q. How long before that had Major Reno crossed to the right bank?
A. A short time before that.
Q. Who was with Major Reno at the time this order was given?
A. I can’t remember who was there. I think Lieutenant Wallace was. I don’t know whether Lieutenant Hare was or not. I think he was. Lieutenant Hodgson was there.
Q. How close were they to Major Reno when Adjutant Cook came up with that order?
A. I don’t know.
Q. In what tone of voice was the order given?
A. In a clear distinct tone of voice.
Q. How far was Adjutant Cook from Major Reno when the order was given?
A. As close as his horse would allow him to get to him.
Q. And spoke in a loud tone of voice?
A. So that all around there would hear him.
Q. How close were you to Major Reno?
A. Right close.
Q. What were you doing?
A. Sitting on my horse.
Q. Were you closer to Major Reno than Lieutenant Wallace was?
A. I don’t know whether I was or not.
Q. Were not Lieutenants Wallace, Hodgson and Hare there near enough to hear the order?
A. They might have been.
Q. Were they not as well placed to hear the order as you were?
A. They might have been.
Q. You saw no effort to carry the order to Captain Benteen?
A. No sir.
Q. Where do you fix the spot on the map where the Indians were circling around, if you can fix it at all?
A. Somewhat further up than where the skirmish line is, and on the left, back in the valley.
Q. I speak of the time when you spoke to Captain Weir about seeing Indians in motion. Where were they when you saw them?
A. I can’t point it out on the map.
Q. Was it far from the place where Major Reno had his skirmish line in the timber?
A. It seemed to be about on a line with that skirmish line.
Q. In which direction?
A. On the right, in the direction of the skirmish line.
Q. Was it far from that line or not?
A. It would not be very far. I don’t know how much ground the timber covered from the hill - it was not a great distance.
Q. Was it half a mile?
A. I think about a mile.
Q. The place you saw the Indians circling around was about half a mile from the skirmish line?
A. About that from where it was on the left.
Q. How far did Captain Weir go down with his men?
A. To the first rise - out to the right.
Q. Did you ever go out as far as Captain Weir went?
A. No - I went with Major Reno’s column.
Q. How far did that column go in the direction of Captain Weir?
A. I could not say.
Q. Was it a mile or two?
A. I don’t think it went a mile.
Q. What time do you think Major Reno’s column reached the top of the hill from the bottom?
A. I think it was between two and three o’clock.
Q. Do you think it was before or after 3?
A. I think it was before.
Q. And remained there how long do you think?
A. They remained there about two hours.
Q. That would bring it to about 5 o’clock?
A. Yes sir.
Q. How long were they going to meet Captain Weir’s company and returning?
A. I could not say.
Q. Was it an hour do you think?
A. It might have been an hour.
Q. Is an hour a fair estimate?
A. I don’t know.
Q. as it much more than an hour?
A. I can’t state the time.
Q. What time do you suppose Major Reno’s command crossed the river to go to the timber?
A. About 1 o’clock, maybe after 1.
Q. You think they got back, after they came back from where Captain Weir was to where the stand was made, about an hour before sundown?
A. Yes sir.
Q. When Major Reno laid down had the firing ceased?
A. Yes sir’
Q. Were the men all, in proper position to resist an attack?
A. Yes sir.
Q. All the military arrangements were completed, were they?
A. I suppose they were.
Q. Were the other officers and the men lying down?
A. I don’t know, I went to sleep as soon as I laid down.
Q. Were not the men all in proper shape for resisting an attack?
A. I believe they were.
Q. Do you pretend to know all the orders Major Reno gave?
A. No sir, I did not say I did.
Q. He could, for all you know, have given other orders and you not heard them?
A. Yes sir, I was not with him all the time that day.
Q. When he sent his horse to the depression, it was for shelter, was it?
A. Yes sir.
Q. He did not go with the horse?
A. No sir.
Q. He was about the line as far as you saw?
A. Yes sir.
Q. The next day, as far as you saw, he was about the line?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Could you see the pack train when you came on the hill?
A. Yes sir.
Q. How far off was it?
A. 50 or 100 yards_ I went to speak to a sergeant of my company in charge of a part of the pack train.
Q. How long after Major Reno reached the hill did you reach there?
A. I don’t know.
Q. Did you see Lieut, Hare sent to the pack train to hurry it up?
A. No sir.
Q. Do you know that he went in that direction?
A. No sir.
Q. Did you see him coming back from that direction?
A. No sir.
Q. Did you say the pack train reached there 15 minutes after Major Reno reached there?
A. No sir.
Q. How much longer were you in getting to the top of the hill than Major Reno?
A. I don’t know- I was delayed on the side of the hill catching an Indian pony.
Q. How long were you engaged at that?
A. Maybe I was 20 minutes,
Q. How long were you coming from the timber to the river?
A. I came as fast as my horse would bring me,
Q. Was it a half an hour or twenty minutes?
A. I don’t know.
Q. Was Captain Benteen there when you came up?
A. Captain Weir was there. I don’t recollect Captain Benteen.
Q. The pack train was how far away?
A. The advance was on the bill when I got there.
Q. From the timber to the river, how long did it take you - 5 or 10 minutes?
A. It was more than that; may horse fell with me there.
Q. Was it 15 minutes?
A. I don’t know how long it was.
Q. Can you be accurate in the time you were getting to the top of the hill and reaching the pack train?
A. I don’t pretend to be accurate.
Q. Did Major Reno send to Captain Weir to come to him?
A. Not that I know of.
Q. Did you not say that the column halted and Major Reno sent for Captain Weir?
A. I don’t think I did,
Q. If you said so was it a fact?
A. I am not aware I said so.
  • QUESTIONS BY THE RECORDER
Q. When you were going down the bottom, did you not say you had permission from Major Reno to go with Lieutenant Hare?
A. Yes sir; I had permission at the time. He said I could go with that officer.
Q. When you went on the skirmish line did you go with Lieutenant Hare?
A. He was the officer I went with.
Q. Did you consider you were disobeying orders then in going from the timber to the line?
A. No sir; I thought I was doing my duty as a soldier.
Q. Who was holding Major Reno’s horse when you came back?
A. I don’t know. I did not see his horse at all.
Q. You have repeated the order given by Adjutant Cook to Major Reno. Would you be likely to know, being Major Reno’s orderly, whether General Custer sent, any word to Captain Benteen or not?
A. Certainly not.
Q. You say when you went on the hill you were talking to Captain Weir about the firing - was it a fact that you had that conversation with Captain Weir?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Describe that dust and about how many Indians you saw fighting General Custer?
A. I remarked to Captain Weir that General Custer must be fighting the Indians; they were circling around in the bottom. He said “Why do you think so.” I said “I hear the firing and see the dust; and see, the Indians have all left us.”
Q. You say that might be half a mile from the skirmish line; might it not be more?
A. Yes sir.
Q. You did not mean you were sure it was not over half a mile?
A. I don’t mean that.
Q. When you got from the timber to the ford there were a good many men there?
A. Yes sir; but I said most of the ammunition was expended in open skirmish line?
Q. You went from the timber across there as fast as you could?
A. Yes sir.
Q. How long did you stop when your horse fell?
A. No longer than to recover myself - probably a couple of minutes - no longer.
Q. Then how fast did you go?
A. As fast as my horse could run.
Q. Where did you overtake the command?
A. At the river.
Q. Did you stop or cross over?
A. I crossed over right away.
Q. Why did you stop on the hill?
A. To catch an Indian pony.
Q. How long did it take you to catch him?
A. Not long; then I stopped with Lieutenant Wallace to fire at some Indians that were killing Dr. DeWolf.
Q. How many shots did you fire?
A. 3 or 4.c. How long did it take you to fire those shots and catch the pony?
A. Ten or fifteen minutes.
Q. Are you sure it was not over 20 minutes?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Then what did you do?
A. Went on to the top of the hill.

*QUESTIONS BY MAJOR RENO

Q. Did you see any evidence of cowardice at any time on the part of Major Reno?
A. No, sir.

The witness then retired.

SERGEANT F. A. CULBERTSON, A WITNESS DULY CALLED, and being first sworn to tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth testifies as follows:

  • QUESTIONS BY THE RECORDER
Q. State your name, rank, company and regiment and where serving
A. F. A. Culbertson, Sergeant Co. “A”, 7th Cavalry, serving at Ft. Lincoln, D. T.
Q. Where were you serving on the 25 and 26 of June, l876. Under whose command?
A. I was serving in “A” comp. 7th Cav. Captain Moylan: serving under Major Reno command.
Q. State if you accompanied Major Ren’s column when it went ahead on the morning of the 25th. If so, where was it that it marched ahead and how far from there did the command cross the Little Big Horn River?
A. I was with Major Reno2s command. It left General Custer’s command at a tepee about 3/4 of a mile from the river.
Q. At what gait did the command move down?
A. At a fast trot.
Q. How long were you crossing over?
A. There was a short delay of perhaps 5 to 8 minutes in closing up the column.
Q. Had you seen the Indians in the valley before crossing?
A. No sir; I had seen some dust.
Q. Describe the movement of that column after it had crossed, up to the time it halted and deployed as skirmishers. State all you saw during that movement?
A. After the companies formed, the command was given “Forward”. We moved down the valley, and after going about half way, there were Indians come in on our left and front. Most of them would circle off to our left. There were a few shots fired some of which struck in front of “A” company.
Q. How far was that from where the line halted?
A. About half a mile.
Q. Was that regular firing or a few scattered shots?

A. Scattering.
Q. In moving down, were you opposed at any time in front by Indians meeting you?
A. They were circling in our front. They were 5 or 600 yards in our front just before we halted,
Q. Could you tell about how many Indians you saw, up to the time the command halted?
A. There were then in our front 200 to 250 riding back and forth, and some crossed over to the bluff on our left.
Q. How far were the hostile Indians from the command when they halted, and what were they doing?
A. They were firing on us as we were about 500 yards from them.
Q. Were the Indians still moving to the left?
A. They were circling in front more than anything else, firing and riding back and forth.
Q. When did the command commence firing?
A. I heard no firing from the command until after we halted and deployed in skirmish line.
Q. Where was the right of the skirmish line?
A. I believe the right rested near the woods; I was on the left.
Q. Were you near the extreme left?
A. Yes sir.
Q. About how far did the skirmish line extend?
A. The intervals were not kept up well, I judge we were deployed about 200 or 250 yards; perhaps more.
Q. State all that occurred on the skirmish line as it was in the open, how long it remained there, what it did and where it went?
A. We remained on the skirmish line firing; some of the men were firing very fast. Many were new men: a great many men of my own company were new men and were firing fast. We remained there some time when I heard the command given, I don’t know by whom, to move by the right flank. The skirmish line was moved by the right flank, every man moving off towards the timber, I stopped on arriving at the timber with 3 other men at the edge of the timber on the brow of the hill. The balance of the command went into the woods: I don’t know for what purpose. I did not hear the command.
Q. Had there been any casualties in the command out there?
A. One man was wounded on the skirmish line that I saw. I saw others in the woods after I got in; we were on the skirmish line about 35 minutes,
Q. You remained out there firing at the Indians after the command got into the woods?
A. We stopped on the brow of the hill and fired 3 or 4 shots apiece, and some person called out at that time to go and get our horses. Then the men of my company was wounded that was with us. We left him and went and got our horses,
Q. When you went and got your horses where did the command go? Where did you go and with whom?
A. When we got our horses I went with Lieutenant Wallace. I could not find my own company, and I thought I would go with him. They said they were going to charge and Sergeant McDermott and myself rode out. When we got on the hill, we saw but a very few men in front of us; but there was a heavy body of Indians all around us, As soon as we got on the edge of the timber, Lieutenant Wallace rode forward, and we rode forward with him in the direction of the river. The command was all ahead then and I saw none .t all but one or two straggling men,
Q. Were there any Indians between you and the command?
A. Yes sir; both on our right and left, and some in front of us.
Q. Can you tell why the skirmish line was taken from the open into the timber? Was it driven in by the Indians?
A. No heavy body of Indians charged on us until just as the last man got off the line. Then about 800 about 8 or 10 deep, came round to our left.
Q. Do you know in what order the command arrived at the ford?
A. I know nothing about that
Q. Do you know how fast they moved?
A. I judge at a very fast trot; perhaps faster; I don’t know. We were moving at a fast trot ourselves. Lieutenant Wallace was loping; I was trotting.
Q. Could you see what the Indians were doing with reference to the command?
A. They were riding alongside and firing from the pommels of their saddles, and some fired pistols as we came along.
Q. Did you hear any command given there to charge or to retreat, or anything indicating what the movement from the woods was to be?
A. No sir,
Q. Did you have any idea what the movement was to be from the woods?
A. No sir; I did not hear the order, and don’t know anything more than that someone said they were going to charge. I don’t know where the order came from.
Q. Did you hear any calls sounded?
A. No sir.
Q. would you have heard the calls if they had been sounded?
A. I think I should.
Q. After the command halted and deployed as skirmishers, state if you know where Major Reno was? What did he do or say, up to the time the command left the woods?
A. I did not see raj. Reno, only for a second as the skirmish line was being formed, I saw him then riding towards the woods. After that I did not see him until the time I arrived on the top of the hill.
Q. Did you see him go into the woods?
A. No sir; I saw him going in that direction.
Q. Upon arriving at the ford in going back, state what you saw and did there?
A. As I came to the ford, there was quite a body of Indians firing at all parties who were dismounted, killing horses and men as they could. When I came to the ford my horse jumped into the river. I passed Lieutenant Hodgson who was in the river. I could not stop my horse to assist him, Lieutenant Wallace stopped on the other side to give what assistance he mulct. As soon as I got out of the river, I saw Captain French (and) Sergeant Lloyd; and the Sergeant said we had better stop and protect the wounded in coming across. I told him to speak to Captain French about it and he did so, Captain French said “I’ll try, I’ll try”, and with that rode up the hill.
Q. Was there any body of men formed on the other bank of the river protecting the men in getting over?
A. No sir.
Q. Was the fire of the Indians returned by the troops to drive them from their position firing into the men?
A. No sir; I heard none.
Q. Did you see any other officer there?
A. Not any officer right there. I met Lieutenant Varnum about 25 yards above that with a wounded man; the man who was taking care of his horse. He asked me to dismount and assist the man on his horse. I dismounted and caught a loose horse of “G” Co. and put the man on him and started on up the hill again.
Q. Do you know where Major Reno was at that time?
A. I can’t say.
Q. Where did you next see him?
A. On top of the hill.
Q. Did you go on up the hill?
A. Yes sir, slowly.
Q. Were the men coming up from the river?
A. Yes sir; most of them dismounted.
Q. Did you cross at the same place the other men crossed?
A. On going into the river I went in at the same place; but I chose a place above that to go out,
Q. Did you observe any other wounded man besides that one in the woods?
A. The 1st Sgt. of my company was wounded in the knee, and I stopped and got him a horse.
Q. Who assisted you?
A. Sgt. McDermott.
Q. Did you get him up?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Were you under an Indian fire at the time?
A. Yes sir; they were firing from a high point on us.
Q. Did you see any other officer going up the hill, if so who?
A. No sir, no other.
Q. When you got on top of the hill, what officer did you see and what was he doing?
A. The first officer I saw was Captain Moylan, and I heard him say he would not sell his horse for something; I don’t know what. What was Major Reno doing when you got on the hill?
A. He was riding down to where his position was afterwards. In a few minutes after, I heard them say General Custer’s column was coming.
Q. Who did it turn out to be?
A. Captain Benteen.
Q. How long after you got on the hill before Captain Benteen’s column arrived?
A. About 5 or 10 minutes.
Q. Did you hear Major Reno give any order on the hill, if so what?
A. I heard him give an order to Lieutenant Varnum, but could not tell what it was.
Q. Could you hear what it was about?
A. No sir.
Q. Could you hear if it was about any person?
A. No sir; Lieutenant Varnum made answer that his horse was worn out, but that if he could get a new horse he would go. [An error on Culbertson’s part. It was Hare, not Varnum, to whom he heard Reno give the order. W.A.G.]
Q. What did you do after• that?
A. As soon as I arrived on the hill I went to where the most of the men of my company were, and as the wounded men came up, we took care of them.
Q. Did the wounded men mostly come by themselves?
A. There were only two other men came up at that time; Ian men of my own company.
Q. Were they being assisted?
A. No sir. One man wounded in the timber; we told him to hold on to his horse and he did so and rode up.
Q. HOW about the other one?
A. He came on horseback.
Q. When riding across the bottom could you see whether there were men wounded on the ground or falling from their horses?
A. I didn’t notice any of the men, I believe, except one lying close to the brush. I don’t know whether he was wounded or not.
Q. You saw Major Ueno riding towards the position you afterwards occupied for defense. When and where did you see Major Reno next and what orders did he give?
A. I was called by Captain Moylan and asked what men were wounded and how many were missing. I told him, and then Lieutenant Varnum asked me if I had any water. While speaking to him and giving him a drink of water, he asked me if I had seen anything of Lieutenant Hodgson. I said I had, and gave him a description of where I had seen him last. He either called Major Reno or he came up about that time, and I told him I had seen Lieutenant Hodgson in the river. Major Reno asked me if I thought I could find him, I said I thought I could. He said he was going for some water, and I should go along with him. 10 or 12 men and myself then went with Major Reno to the river. We went down to the river and I found the body of a man lying at the edge of the river. I at first thought it was Lieutenant Hodgson and called Major Reno’s attention to it; but it proved to be a man of my own company. We filled our canteens above where the man was lying in the river, and came up on a little bench again advancing up the hill, and a man of my Co. came across the body of Lieutenant Hodgson and called Major Reno’s attention to it, and he came up to the body. We found that his watch and chain had been taken off except the little gold bar inside of his vest; and a plain gold ring, Major Reno took that off and said it was his class ring. We went on up the hill and found a man of “G” company in the brush and took him out. He had lost his horse and had hid in there until he got an opportunity to get out. We then went on to the top of the hill.
Q. When you went dawn to the river were there any Indians in that immediate vicinity?
A. Not in the front, but on our right there were Indians on the hill.
Q. Was there any special or great danger or only a liability of being hit?
A. There was a chance of being hit; they had killed several men right along there. The firing was not heavy, but we stood a chance of being killed.
Q. When you went back to the top of the hill, what movement of troops was then made, in what direction, how far and how soon after you got back?
A. I think in about 20 minutes, Captain Weir’s Co. moved out; the pack train was just coming up; a man of my company who came up with the pack train was there. “A” Co. had 4 wounded men and we had to take the saddle blankets to put them in. I believe that was done by Major Reno’s order, but Captain Moylan superintended it. It took six men to each wounded man, and the rest to take care of and lead the horses, We moved forward for a half or three quarters of a mile, where orders came back to halt and return to our old position. We were moving down the river following Captain Weir’s Co. which was in advance.
Q. How near did you approach the advance position of Captain Weir’s Co?
A. I don’t know; they were being driven back.
Q. How far was it ahead when you noticed it was being driven back?
A. About 600 yards.
Q. How much time was occupied from the time you got on the hill in making that movement going down and returning?
A. From the time we left the hill going down, returning and getting into position, about an hour and a half. We travelled slow: moved only a few feet at a time.
Q. Do you know who ordered the column to move downstream?
A. No sir.
Q. Do you know who ordered Captain Weir’s Co. to move out?
A. No sir.
Q. After the return of the command, whet orders did you receive about the packs, if any, and from whom?
A. While on the skirmish line Lieutenant Mathey came to me and said I should bring four men from the line and take off the packs and build breastworks for the wounded. While we were taking off the packs, one man was instantly killed; then an order came, I don’t know from whom, but I think from one of the packers, not to take off the packs. Just then Major Reno came along and Captain Mathey asked him about it and he said, “Yes, take the packs off”, and we took the packs off and built breast works for the wounded.
Q. Go back to the timber when the skirmish line was thrown out there, and state how long the command stayed in the timber or bottom till it left there?
A. We were on the line about 35 minutes and it took them from 5 to 10 minutes to get out of the woods; that, would be about 45 minutes.
Q. State if you can, from the time Major Reno left the command of General Custer at the tepee, how long it was until Major Reno and Captain Benteen united their forces on the hill
A. It was about an hour and a half.
Q. How long was it after Captain Benteen’s arrival on the hill until the pack train came up or any part of it?
A. I judge it took us about 25 minutes to go to the river and find Lieutenant Hodgson’s body and return. When we arrived on the hill there I found part of the train was up. The ammunition had arrived.
Q. Do you know just when the ammunition arrived?
A. I do not.
Q. When was it Captain Weir moved down the stream; before or after the ammunition pack mule came up?
A. It was after. He was on top of the hill when I came up from the edge of the river.
Q. Did you occupy as much time firing at the Indians as the other men?
A. I don’t think I did as much firing as some of the others. I may have been three or four minutes longer than others,
Q. How many rounds of ammunition did you fire?
A. I found by my belt that I had fired 21 rounds.
Q. Mate if you heard firing from the direction in which General. Custer’s battlefield was afterwards ascertained to be. If so, when was it as compared with the time Captain Benteen’s column came up? Describe that firing and what was said about it?
A. It was when Lieutenant Varnum called me to ask me for some water. He was sitting on the edge of a bank. While sitting there: talking to Lieutenant Edgerly we could hear the firing; at first it was a couple of volleys, very heavy: afterwards it was lighter and appeared to be more distant, Lieutenant Varnum made the remark that General Custer was hotly engaged or was giving it to the Indians hot, or words to that effect; and in a few minutes after Major Reno came up and we went down to the river and I did not hear it any more. If there had been any firing after that the hills would have broke the sound.
Q. Was Major Reno on the hill the time you heard the firing?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Was he near you at the time?
A. He came up while the firing was going on
Q. What did he do?
A. He came up and commenced to talk with Lieutenant Varnum, and I stepped back as soon as he came up,
Q. Was he looking down the river?
A. He was,
Q. By himself?
A. No sir; Lieutenant Varnum was sitting there at the time facing rather down the river.
Q. Could you hear the firing at that time?
A. Yes sir.
Q. What position did Major Reno occupy with reference to the firing, as compared with your position?
A. He was a little in front and to my right.
Q. How long did you continue to hear that firing?
A. Only a few minutes.
Q. Then where did you go?
A. Down to the edge of the river.
Q. Did you hear any firing after those volleys?
A. I did hear some little firing.
Q. Was it regular or short and quick like men engaged in battle?
A. It appeared more like skirmish line firing.
Q. To whom was the remark of Lieutenant Varnum about the firing addressed?
A. I think to Lieutenant Edgerly.
Q. Where was Major Reno at the time that remark was made?
A. I think he was too far back to have heard it.
Q. Did he step up at once?
A. No sir.
Q. How long after?
A. A few minutes after,
Q. Are you sure you heard firing after Major Reno came up from the direction of General. Custer’s battlefield?
A. Yes sir, I am sure of it.
Q. How long after that was it till the movement of the command was made downstream?
A. I should place it a few minutes inside of an hour.

Then at 2 o’clock P. M, the court adjourned till 10 o’clock A. M, tomorrow Friday January, 31, 1879.



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