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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

SEVENTEENTH DAY

Chicago, Illinois

January 31, 1879

10 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 as far as written were read and approved.

Lieutenant Charles DeRudio being recalled by Major Reno testifies as follows:

  • QUESTIONS BY MAJOR RENO
Q. What conversation if any did you have with Mr. Girard in the timber, in regard to his being a non-combatant?
A. I did not converse with him. He said it served him right being in that position; that he had no business in the fight, as he was not employed to fight; that he was not a combatant but only an interpreter, and that if he had kept with the pack train he would not have been found in any such position.
  • QUESTIONS BY THE RECORDER
Q. State from your experience as an officer, what is the correct position of a man employed as interpreter in regard to such matters: whether he is expected to go into the line and fight as a soldier, being employed as an interpreter?
A. I don’t know anything about that; it is a question of contract between him and the commanding officer; he is expected to carry out whatever he is employed to do.
Q. Is it a part of the duty of an interpreter as such to fight?
A. Not that I know of

The witness then retired.

  • QUESTIONS BY MAJOR RENO
Q. What commands if any, or instructions, did you hear Major Reno give to Company “G” on their way to the timber?
A. I heard him say to Co., “G”, not to get excited; that they would have hot enough work or words to that effect.
Q. State if there was not a very considerable cloud of dust in front of the Indian encampment as you moved down?
A. A very large cloud of dust.
Q. State how many Indians you could see outside of that cloud?
A. At times from a hundred to a hundred and fifty; at times more, riding back and forth.
Q. Did you see Major Reno frequently and if so what was he doing?
A. I saw him but once, and that was when the line was being deployed. His adjutant deployed the line on the left, and Major Reno was on the right of the line.
Q. State what in your judgment would have been the effect on the skirmish line if it had not been retired to the timber?
A. Had it not been retired within 3 minutes from the time it was, I don’t think any one would have got off the line.
Q. How long, in your judgment, could Major Reno have held that timber with his command?
A. I don’t think he could have held it but a very few minutes.
Q. State what is your estimate of the number of Indians at and about the position of Major Reno, on the skirmish line and in the timber?
A. I think from a 1000 to 1200.
Q. With regard to the number of shots that you fired, what was your manner of firing?
A. Four of us were together, and we always stopped and knelt before firing.
Q. Did the troops generally do that?
A. No sir; the majority were new men never under fire before and fired at random.
Q. Did you have any conversation with other men on the skirmish line and in the timber; and if so what were their statements about the number of shots fired by them?
A. I have had men tell me that they fired 60 rounds.
Q. When you got on the hilltop, state if you heard Major Reno give any orders to Lieutenant Varnum?
A. I heard him give an order but what it was I do not know. Q. How long was that after the command reached the hill top?
A. It was just as we got on the hill top. Lieutenant Varnum was close to me.
Q. State if there was any delay or waste of time in making the movement down the river after the packtrain joined the command on the hill?
A. Nothing more than to get the wounded fixed with the blankets.
Q. How far down the river in the direction of General Custer’s battlefield did the command move?
A. About a half or 3/4 of a mile; we were in the rear. Q. Was the front part of the column much in the advance? A. Probably 600 yards, perhaps more.
Q. State whether the firing of which you have spoken that you heard while on top of the hill, was heavier in the direction of General Custer’s battlefield than that which was heard in the timber?
A. It was not any heavier than that we had on our skirmish line.
Q. State if the firing at any time you heard it, was sufficiently heavy to convey to you or anybody else the idea that General Custer was having more trouble than he could contend with?
A. It did not appear to be the impression with any person that he was having any more trouble than we had ourselves.
Q. State whether you had any conversation on the hilltop with Captain Moylan with regard to the impression that General Custer had wounded men and could not join Major Reno’s command?
A. I had no conversation with him myself, but there was a remark made on the night of the 25th by someone as Captain Moylan was passing along, that Lieutenant Calhoun had been wounded. He stopped and asked who brought the word in The man said he did not know, that some scout had brought it in. He said he did not think it was true, as he had not heard it.
Q. That was on the night of the 25th?
A. Yes sir, just after dark.
Q. State whether the firing you heard down the river at the time the command moved in that direction was heavy or light?
A. There was firing between Major Reno’s command and the Indians; none further down.
Q. Did you hear any firing from General Custer’s battlefield?
A. Not at that time
Q. State with regard to the firing on the top of the hill which you spoke of yesterday, how long after you heard that firing did you and Major Reno look after Lieutenant Hodgson’s body?
A. A very few minutes: probably 5 minutes.
Q. State whether you heard any firing after you left the hilltop with Major Reno?
A. Not in that direction.
Q. When you came back to the hilltop from the edge of the river, did you hear any firing?
A. I did not.
Q. How long do you suppose you were gone there with Major Reno?
A. I judge it took us half an hour to go and come back.
Q. As far as you saw on the afternoon of the 25th, was not Major Reno exercising caution over his command?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Speaking of Major Reno going to the pack animals, state what he said there, and if it was a position of great exposure or not?
A. Major Reno was standing on the opposite side of the packs on a side hill which was a very exposed place, mules were being killed every second and men were being killed.
Q. Was a man killed right there? A. Yes sir.
Q. What time was that?
A. About 20 minutes after the Indians came down and engaged us that evening.
Q. Fix as far as you can that period of time?
A. I should think it was 5 or half past.
Q. On the evening of the day he had been in the timber?
A. Yes sir; on the 25th.
Q. After dark did you see him, and was he in a position of danger?
A. I saw him that evening on the left, where the breastworks were being buiLieutenant He asked if all the stuff had been put in the breastworks. I said no, there were some few boxes in front still, which were used by the men on the skirmish line, and he said we should extend it as far as possible.
Q. Was the place you saw him in, one of danger or of security?
A. It was a dangerous place.
Q. State what arrangements were made for the security of the command on the night of the 25th, after the firing ceased?
A. I can only speak for our own line.
Q. I call your attention to pickets being thrown out.
A. There had been pickets put out. Captain Moylan I suppose received orders from Major Reno, and put pickets out in front of the breastworks,
Q. after the pickets were out out, did the command lie down and rest?
A. Yes sir.
Q. State if anything was said on the night of the 25th in regard to sending a despatch to General Custer?
A. Lieutenant Varnum spoke to Sergeant McDermott in the vicinity of the packmules and asked him if he would volunteer to go with him provided he, Lieutenant Varnum, had to go out. Sergeant McDermott said he did not want to volunteer, but if he was detailed he would go. Lieutenant Varnum said it was very likely he would have to go and he wanted the Sergeant to go along with him.
Q. It was the belief that night that General Custer and his command were alive?
A. Yes sir, there was no other impression.
Q. State if at any time or in any way the idea ever entered into the minds of the officers or men of Major Reno’s command during the 25th and 26th of June, that General Custer and his command could possibly be destroyed?
A. There was no such impression at all.
Q. Was it not the impression on the part of officers and men that General Custer and his men were just as able to take care of themselves as Major Reno was with the column he had?
A. The impression was that General Custer had wounded and was not able to come to us, as we were not able to go to him.
Q. Speak of the conversation between Captain Weir and Captain Moylan on the subject of General Custer that night.

THE RECORDER OBJECTED TO THE QUESTION as being entirely too much question of hearsay. The court without being cleared overruled the objection.

A. I heard Captain Weir ask Captain Moylan, when he was Adjutant whether General Custer ever gave him any particular orders about doing anything. Whether we were to go here or there. Captain Moylan said No, that when he was Adjutant, General Custer never told him what he was going to do; he would order him to tell the Company Commanders to go to such and such places and that was all.
Q. State whether you saw Major Reno on the morning of the 26th. If so at what hour and where was he?
A. I saw him about 8 or half past coming from the direction of “D” Co’s. line down to the breastworks where Captain Moylan was.
Q. Who had Co. D?
A. Captain Weir,
Q. Was that position a dangerous one or not?
A. It had been, the afternoon before; I was not there that day, though I heard that men were wounded there that day.
Q. Did you see Major Reno again on that day, and if so when and what was he doing?
A. I saw him moving around at different times behind “A” Co. I was not out from behind the breastworks of “A” Co., but could see him passing hack and forth from one end of the line to the other.
Q. State if you saw him going past the packtrain?
A. I saw him pass it several times.
Q. Was that a position of danger exposed to the fire of the Indians?
A. Yes sir; it was the worst place there was
Q. State if you saw Major Reno about 11 o’clock on the morning of the 26th, and heard him speak of going after water for the wounded?
A. I heard him say something about sending some men down for water.
Q. Did you know a man named McIllargy?
A. I did.
Q. State whether you saw him recrossing the ford in the direction of General Custer’s command?
A. I saw him going back but not recrossing the ford.
Q. Do you know whether he rejoined the column under Major Reno?
A. He never did that I know of.
Q. State with regard to the horsemanship of a great many men of Major Reno’s column?

A . A great many men were very poor horsemen.

Q. State if you heard Adjutant Cook say anything to the men in column on the way to the ford?
A. As we were crossing that tributary of the Little Big Horn, Adjot. Cook gave the order to close up; that there was hot work ahead of them.
Q. Had the horses of the men at that time become unmanageable?
A. No sir; nothing more than that some of the men were very poor rid ers. Q. Are you acquainted with the point on the map marked “B”?
A. I have been there and crossed it.
Q. Is it as good a ford as at the point “A” where Major Reno crossed into the timber?
A. I think it is about as good.
Q. As far as the country is concerned, would it not offer the same facilities for crossing?
A. Yes sir; we crossed it several times in 1877, and it was a good crossing.
Q. You heard no firing when you and gaj. Reno came up from the river to the hill?
A. I did not.
Q. Did you see Mr. Girard during that fight?
A. I did not till the night of the 26th.
Q. State if you had any conversation with him in regard to his watch and rifle?
A. He and Jackson came in and Girard said he had lost his watch on the afternoon of the 25th, and threw his rifle into the river to try to get away.
Q. State if you saw any acts of Girard that are of any importance in this matter?
A. I saw him on the morning of the 27th; that’s all.
Q. State whether at any time during the advance to the timber or in the fight there; or in the return to the hill top or at any time during all those engagements, you saw any evidence whatever of cowardice on the part of Major Reno?
A. None at all.
  • QUESTIONS BY THE RECORDER
Q. Did you see Major Reno all that time?
A. No sir.
Q. About how much of the time during the 25th and the 26th do you suppose you saw him?
A. I saw him frequently back and forth.
Q. How many times did you see him, and how long at a time and how much time altogether?
A. I suppose putting all the time I saw him together during the two days would amount to probably 4 or 5 hours.
Q. Is that the time on which you base the opinion you have given?
A. Yes sir; I only base my opinion on that.
Q. You say you saw a cloud of dust at the head of the column going down? A. Yes sir.
Q. State whether the Indians in driving their ponies make such a cloud of dust?
A. They will.
Q. Could you tell whether they were all ponies, or warriors on the move?
A. I could not say.
Q. You did not know what was in that cloud of dust?
A. No sir.
Q. You say the command would not have lasted three minutes if it had not been taken off the line into the timber?
A. Yes sir.
Q. How many men had been hurt to that time?
A. A very few; only one that. I know of; but the Indians would have cut us off at that time because just as the left of the line moved into the woods, about 800 Indians came around the edge, and Lieutenant DeRudio stopped and fired 2 shots at them.
Q. Was there any halt made to give the Indians a volley?
A. No; the skirmish line had moved into the woods.
Q. Then the Indians passed round without getting the benefit of a volley?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Did the command go into the woods for protection?
A. I cant say.
Q. If it would have been destroyed on the line, in going into the woods was it protected?
A. It would be more protected there.
Q. State how many shots you actually fired?
A. I found by my belt that I had fired 21 shots.
Q. You state that the majority of the men were new men. What do you mean by a majority?
A. Men not in the service more than 5 or 6 months. Most of “G” Company men were new and a great many of “A” Company were new.
Q. Were half of A Company new men?
A. No; about 1/3.
Q. How much more than half of “G” Company were new men?
A. Not more than half, about half.
Q. How much had the other Company?
A. I don’t know about the other company.
Q. Do you say that the majority were new men?
A. They detailed the oldest men for horse holders.
Q. Is it not true that a great many men coming into the service and classed as recruits, have been in the service before?
A. About one in ten have been in before.
Q. Do you know that was the case there?
A. We had but one man in the lot we got, who had been in the service before.
Q. All the men had been in the service 5 or 6 months?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Cannot a man properly instructed in his duties, learn the ordinary duties of a cavalryman in six months?
A. Yes sir, if properly instructed.
Q. You say the command was delayed on the hill in making a move on account of the wounded?
A. Yes sir.
Q. And not on account of the pack train?
A. I don’t know. They said when I came on the hill that the ammunition had come up.
Q. There was delay on account of the wounded?
A. The delay was getting the blankets to put the wounded in.
Q. Did you see 1200 Indians around Major Reno’s command in the bottom?
A. I judge I saw from a thousand to twelve hundred.
Q. There might be some down in the village?
A. I did not see the village. I could see a big dust there.
Q. Describe the position of the 1000 to 1200 Indians you saw in reference to the position of Major Reno’s command in the timber?
A. The first Indians were across on our front end left; the skirmish line was then drawn in: there is a bend in the river and the village is more in that bend, and they came up around the bend, passing right where the line had been.
Q. Then if there was danger to the command in being out in the open firing at the enemy, and of being destroyed in three minutes by the Indians coming there, state if there was not danger in going out and crossing the river to the top of the hill?
A. There was great danger in passing out. The Indians rode alongside of us about 8 or 10 deep firing most of the time into us.
Q. Do you consider there was very great danger in the commands going out of that timber and crossing that bottom?
A. I consider there was danger there,
Q. State if you know, up to the time the command started to leave the timber, of there being any order showing what they were going to do?
A. No sir; nothing, only some of the men said they were going to charge. I don’t know if it was an officer or a soldier.
Q. State up to that time how many men had been disabled?
A. There was one man wounded on the line, another after we got into the timber and another one was wounded just as he got on his horse; that was all I knew of at the time.
Q. What became of those 1200 Indians you spoke of after Major Reno crossed the river?
A. They rode up to the crossing; and as they came up, would swing around and ride back again.
Q. In that movement down the stream after the pack train came up, who was in advance?
A. Captain Weir’s company.
Q. Was he considerably in advance of the other part of Major Reno’s column?
A. He started before the balance.
Q. What interval was there between his company and the column?
A. He may have been 150 yards in advance when I saw him; he might have been further in advance at some other time.
Q. You don’t know when he moved out?
A. No sir.
Q. You don’t know by whose order he moved, or if by any order?
A. I do not.
Q. State if you were in a position, when you went down to the edge of the river, to hear firing?
A. No sir. After we left the top of the hill, the hills between us and Genl. Custer’s battlefield would break off all sound.
Q. When you came back on the hill you looked after the wounded men?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Did you put them where they would be near the water?
A. No sir; not near the water. They were in a place Major Reno occupied afterward.
Q. Was it in a low place or a high place?
A. It was in a depression.
Q. How much lower was it than the place where you heard the firing first?
A. It was nearly on a level with it; a very little depression.
Q. Were you paying any attention so that you might hear the firing, or were you attending to the wounded?
A. I was not paying any attention to the firing; still, if there had been any I think it would have been noticed by some one and spoken of
Q. It might not have been heard by any one?
A. No sir.
Q. Was there not more firing as if from sharpshooters from the Indians in the distance, on high points or knolls?
A. There was but little firing at that time around our position.
Q. On the afternoon of the 25th during the fighting, how much did you see of Major Reno from the time the men took the final position for defense, until the engagement was over?
A. I saw him twice to speak to him, and I saw him several times passing by. I suppose altogether, I saw him an hour and a half or two hours during the engagement that afternoon.
Q. You say a man was killed at the time you were arranging the packs; how near was Major Reno to you at that time?
A. Perhaps within 15 or 20 yards, standing on the opposite side of the packs,
Q. You stated when fixing the line at night, you saw Major Reno giving instructions?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Were the Indians firing on the line at that time?
A. The fire was ceasing.
Q. Was the danger as great as it had been?
A. No sir; the firing was going, but was not so heavy as it had been an hour and a half before.
Q. You have said something about the impression that Genl. Custer was taking care of himself about as well as Major Reno was. Who had the most men at that time?
A. I know he had 5 companies with him.
Q. What was the average size of a company?
A. About 40 to 45 men.
Q. Before or after taking out the packers?
A. I never saw them after the packers were taken out, but I judge there were 40 to 45 men.
Q. He did not have over about 225 men?
A. About that.
Q. Do you know how many effective men Major Reno had on the hill that night?
A. I judge about 300 or 325 men.
Q. State whether there was any effort made, under cover of the darkness that night, to discover where General Custer was?
A. I do not know of any.
Q. You say the pack train was in a most dangerous place: did it remain there?
A. It could not be changed.
Q. Was it in a depression?
A. It was; but on the open side they were exposed to a fire in front of Company A.
Q. How much had the bulk of that command ridden shortly before that time?
A. During the month before, they had ridden probably 2 or 300 miles.
Q. Did the men fight mounted or dismounted in the bottom?
A. Dismounted.
Q. Do you know anything about the ford “B” at that time or immediately after the engagement?
A. I was there at the ford.
Q. Can you describe the approach to it from the right bank?
A. There is a small dry creek runs in there.
Q. Describe the bank on the other side.
A. On the up river side, it was more sloping than on the other side. There were places where the command could cross at “B”.
Q. You mean a command that could have had time to hunt a place?
A. It would require no hunting.
Q. Was it used at that time by the Indians as a ford?
A. I think the ford “B” was fully as good as “A”.
Q. Did it appear to have been used as a crossing by the Indians to the same extent as “A”?
A. I judge so. The right bank appeared to have been used a good deal.
Q. How was it on the other bank?
A. I did not go over at that time. It appeared to be a sloping bank.
Q. Did you notice whether the trail went out on the other side?
A. I did not.
Q. How wide was the stream there?
A. 40 or 50 yards.
Q. Which was nearer to the hostile village, the point “B”, or the place where Major Reno was in the timber?
A. “B”. It was near the centre of the village,
Q. Did you examine the ground about the point “B” as to any evidences of fighting?
A. No sir.
Q. How near were the first evidences of fighting there?
A. The first body I saw, I judge was about 200 yards from there. The companies were kept together to bury the dead as we came to them, and we did but little running around.
  • QUESTIONS BY MAJOR RENO
Q. Was there not an attempt by the whole column on the afternoon of the 25th to open communication with General Custer and it was driven back?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Your impression of Major Reno’s bravery was based on a longer inspection than that of a moment?
A. Yes sir.
Q. In point of fact how much were the new recruits instructed in the duties of a cavalry soldier?
A. I could hardly answer that question. The men were on duty of other kinds so much. They did not have much opportunity for instruction of a cavalry soldier.
Q. If they had enlisted 5 or 6 months before that, their duties were such that they could not receive very much instruction in the duties of a cavalry soldier?
A. No sir; only what was given them that spring by Major Reno, and that was only a month or six weeks instruction.
  • QUESTIONS BY THE RECORDER
Q. How long have you been in the service?
A. 14 years.
Q. In your duties as a non-commissioned officer are you often called upon to drill the men?
A. Yes sir,
Q. Did you drill those men frequently?
A. No sir; it was mostly company drill and battalion drill: very little squad drill.
Q. Did you consider those men, in your opinion as a sergeant, unfit to take into action?
A. Some few I did.
Q. Is there not always some men unfit to take into action in a command of any considerable size?
A. It is very seldom that you can ever find so many poor horsemen as we had.
Q. Was there any particular cowardice on the part of the recruits?
A. No sir; 1 don’t mean to say they were cowards. They would fire at random, not in time. They were not well enough drilled in horsemanship.

The witness then retired. TRUMPETER JOHN MARTIN, COMPANY H, 7TH CAVALRY, A WITNESS CALLED BY THE. RECORDER and first being 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, company and regiment and where serving.
A. John Martin, Trumpeter, Company H, 7th Cavalry, serving at Fort Abraham Lincoln, D. T.
Q. What duty were you on on the 25th of June 1876?
A. I was orderly trumpeter for General Custer.
Q. Where were you serving at the time - near what place?
A. About 4 or 5 miles from the little Big Horn River.
Q. Were you with General Custer at the tepee on the right bank of the river?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Where was it that Major Reno’s column went ahead of General Custer?
A. It was at that tepee he took to the left and we took to the right.
Q. Were you on a Little stream where you were?
A. No it was a kind of a ravine - we could see hills on both sides.
Q. On which side was General Custer?
A. He was on the right and Major Reno was on the left.
Q. After Major Reno went ahead, state if General Custer remained on that side?
A. Yes sir, we went on a jump all the way.
Q. How near did he go to the river there?
A. He did not go near the river at all; we struck a little creek where we watered our horses - that was the only place we halted.
Q. Was that after Major Reno had gone ahead?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Had Major Reno gone to the left of the creek?
A. Yes sir.
Q. What order did General Custer give there?
A. He sent his compliments to the commanders and directed them not to let the horses drink too much; that they had too much traveling to do that day.
Q. How long were the horses drinking?
A. About 5 minutes.
Q. How long was the halt there.
A. About 10 minutes altogether.
Q. Tell how fast General Custer’s column then went, and tell all you know about what direction and how far from the river, and whether you could see anything on the other side of the river?
A. General Custer left that watering place and went about 300 yards in a straight line; then after that he turned to the right a little more and travelled that way four or five hundred yards; then there was a kind of a big bend on the hill - he turned these hills and went on top of the ridge. All at once we looked on the bottom and saw the Indian village; at the same time we could see only children and dogs and ponies around the village: no Indians at all. General Custer appeared to be glad to see the village in that shape, and supposed the Indians were asleep in their tepees.
Q. As you went down you went on the right bank of the river?
A. Yes sir; on the ridge.
Q. As you were going down could you see the bottom on the other side of the river?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Could you see the timber?
A. No sir; because the timber was under the hill -, the hill was very high.
Q. Could you see anything of Major Reno’s column as you were going down?
A. No sir; not at all.
Q. How near were you to General Custer moving down that time?
A. To the left and rear of him, riding as orderly within about two yards of him,
Q. State if you know where was the gray horse company on that march?
A. In the centre of the column.
Q. Could you see the river as you went down?
A. Yes sir; we could see the river when on the top of that ridge; then we went down a ravine and could not see the river or timber or anything else,
Q. Did you hear any firing as you went down?
A. No sir,
Q. How fast did General Custer move?
A. Always at a gallop.
Q. Was everybody galloping?
A. Yes sir; some of the horses wanted to go ahead all the time.
Q. If you can tell the distance, state how far you had gone from that watering place to the place where you could look down and see the village?
A. I should judge it was about an hour and a half after we left the watering place till we got to that place, There were hills to go up and down and we could not go so fast. [The seventh and eighth words are obvious errors. The witness was speaking of distance and probably used “a mile and a half.” W.A.G.]
Q. Could you see the children in the village?
A. Yes sir; we could, children and dogs and ponies scattered around.
Q. What did the children seem to be doing?
A. Playing around and some standing still.
Q. Did the whole column go on to the ridge to look down?
A. No sir; the whole command passed over it.
Q. Could you see the river from that place out there?
A. No sir; the river war right at the foot of the bluff. e could see the village.
Q. You could see it at that place?
A. Yes sir.
Q. What orders if any did General Custer give the men there - What was said and done there?
A. After General Custer saw the village with no Indians in it, I suppose he was glad, and he pulled off his hat and cave a cheer and said “Courage boys; we will get them, and as soon as we get through, we will go back to our station.”
Q. Tell in what direction you were then going?
A. We went more to the right from that ridge and went down to a ravine that went to the river. et the same time General Custer passed that high place on the ridge or a little below it, he told his Adjutant to send an order back to Captain Benteen.
Q. What orders did you get there?
A. General Custer turned round and called his Adjutant and gave him instructions to write a despatch to Captain Benteen. I don’t know what it was. Then the Adjutant called me. I was right at the rear of the General. He said, “Orderly, I want you to take this despatch to Captain Benteen and go as fast as you can.” He also told me if I had time and there was no danger in coming back to do so, but if there was danger or there .ere any Indians in the way, not to come back, but to remain with my company. My company was with Captain Benteen, and report to him when I came down there.
Q. Tell what you did then - where you went and how fast?
A. My horse was kinder tired, but I went through as fast as he could go. The Adjutant told me to follow the same trail we came down.
Q. Did he say you would meet anybody?
A. No sir,
Q. Did you follow the same trail?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Tell what you saw going back?
A. After I started from General Custer to go back, I travelled 5 or 600 yards perhaps 3/4 of a. mile. I got on the same ridge where General Custer saw the village the first time. On going back over that ridge I looked down into the bottom, and I saw Major Reno’s battalion was engaged. I paid no further attention to it, but went forward on my business. Then I went on to the edge of the stream and about 3 or 400 yards above the creek where we watered our horses, I met Captain Benteen.
Q. What did you do?
A. I delivered my despatch and told him what Lieutenant Cook had told me - not to back if there was any danger and to report to him when my company joined General Custer’s command. Then Captain Benteen took the despatch, read it and put it in his pocket, and gave me an order to take to Captain McDougall to bring up the pack train and keep it well up.
Q. Did you say anything to Captain Benteen about what you had seen in the bottom?
A. Captain Benteen asked me where General Custer was. I said I supposed that by that time he had made a charge through the village, and that was all I said.
Q. Did you say anything about Major Reno’s battalion?
A. No sir.
Q. Why not?
A. He asked no questions about it.
Q. When you left General Custer was he still moving, or was he halted?
A. No sir; he was going ahead. The Adjutant stopped to write the despatch.
Q. Have you any idea how long it took you to get back to Captain Benteen?
A. I judge about 3/4 of an hour or an hour. I can’t judge very well as I had no watch.
Q. You can’t be certain as to the time?
A. No sir.
Q. Did you make any halt going back?
A. No sir, as my horse was going I could look in any direction.
Q. When you saw Major Reno’s command in the bottom did you make any halt?
A. No sir, I went on my business - I was told to hurry.
Q. From that place where you looked down and saw Major Reno’s battalion engaged - can you tell how long it was after that before you got to Captain Benteen?
A. I judge it was 15 or 20 minutes.
Q. It was pretty soon?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Before that had you been travelling all the time from where you left General Custer?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Was it up hill or down hill or on a level?
A. When I left General Custer it was up hill till I got up on that high point, then it was level for a while, and then down hill again.
Q. You say Captain Benteen gave you an order to go to Captain McDougall?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Did you start right off?
A. Yes sir.
Q. How far did you go to find Captain McDougall?
A. About 150 yards.
Q. Captain McDougall himself was in front of his troops?
A. Yes sir.
Q. How were the packs?
A. They were pretty well together,
Q. What did you say to Captain McDougall?
A. I said Captain Benteen sent his compliments and wanted him to hurry up the packs, and not to get too far behind, and to keep them well closed up.
Q. Then what did you do?
A. I went back to my company and took my position on the left of it.
Q. Did Captain McDougall close up the packs then?
A. Yes sir.
Q. When you gave Captain Benteen that order, was he on the march or halted?
A. He was on the march.
Q. After you gave him the order, how fast did he go?
A. After I gave him the order he went a little livelier.
Q. How fast were the packs moving when you went back to Captain McDougall?
A. Some were walking, some running, and some trotting,
Q. After you went back to Captain McDougall what trail did you then follow?
A. General Custer’s trail.
Q. Tell what took place after that?
A. We kept on on General Custer’s trail; and after, we got on this ridge where I saw Major Reno fighting in the bottom, About the time we got there, I saw Major Reno’s battalion retreating to the same side of the river we were on
Q. Did you go with Captain Benteen’s column or with the pack train?
A. I was with my company with Captain Benteen.
Q. Were you with your company when it joined Major Reno’s command?
A. Yes sir.
Q. How long did you have to wait till the packs came up?
A. Probably 10 or 15 minutes. I mean the packs made a long string and in 15 minutes everything was up.
Q. Did you move down the stream that day?
A. They were waiting for some men who were retreating from the bottom and for some packs and after everything was got together, we moved ahead again.
Q. Can you tell how long it was after the packs moved up, till the command moved down the river?
A. I think about an hour and a half. We waited for some men from the bottom and then moved out together.
Q. You came up with your company to where Major Reno was on the hill?
A. Yes sir.
Q. When you got there what did you do?
A. I did nothing - I was on my horse behind Captain Benteen - I was his orderly.
Q. How long were you there before the command started to move out all together?
A. It was about an hour and a half.
Q. Did you see any troops move down before the whole command moved down?
A. No sir.
Q. Which company moved down the stream ahead?
A. I don’t remember.
Q. Was any company ordered out ahead of the others?
A. I don’t recollect.
Q. Did you see Captain Weir’s company go that way?
A. It went with the battalion when we went down stream.
Q. Do you mean he moved with the battalion at the same time it did?
A. Yes sir. At the time we got to the head of the ravine, Captain Weir took his company a little to the right and then came back again.

Q.. When you went down there, what did you see about Indians?

A. I was right in front of the column and could see Indians after we got to the head of the first ravine we struck. We halted there and that was the time Captain Weir wanted to take his company and go down the stream to see General Custer. He went a little to the right and came back again. The Indians were leaving General Custer and coming back to us, firing; the bulk of them came up to the column where we were.
Q. Then what did you do?
A. Then the column turned back, as that was a bad position there; the Indians were on both flanks and the ravine was very deep, and we could not go. through if we went down, And I expect nobody wanted to go; we went back, I don’t know how far, and took position.
Q. Did you come to near the place where you first saw flajor Reno?
A. No sir, it was a little further down the stream.
Q. Did you see Major Reno on that day?
A. I saw him the time we went back and took position.
Q. Did you see him any more that day?
A. No sir.
Q. Did you see him the next day?
A. Yes sir, and I saw him that night too.
Q. At what time?
A. About 12 o’clock that night. He sent an order to me to have reveille sounded at 2 o’clock the next morning.
Q. Did you sound any calls that night?
A. No sir.
Q. Did you sound reveille the next morning?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Did you see Major Reno then?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Had the Indians commenced firing?
A. Yes sir; after reveille they commenced firing and kept on after that.
Q. Where was Major Reno at reveille?
A. In the centre of the corral - I saw him standing there.
Q. Did you see him again that day, and if so, what was he doing?
A. He was around the skirmish line examining the position.
Q. That is all you know about it?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Who were you orderly for the second day?
A. I was the only one that sounded the calls. After the Indians left the evening I sounded retreat, recall and march, as there might be some of our friends in the ravines that we could not see, and if they heard the calls they would come up.
Q. Were you acting as Chief Trumpeter?
A. I was trumpeter for General Custer, but I could not go back and join him, and then I was trumpeter for Major Reno’s battalion. I did not know where the other trumpeters were.
  • QUESTIONS BY MAJOR RENO
Q. What time in the day was it when you saw the Indian village where you and General Custer looked at it?
A. I judge it was about 12 o’clock.
Q. Can you fix the point on the map where you saw the village? Look at the map and don’t try to do it unless you can?
A. It was on a line leading from Major Reno’s position to the point 7 as I understand the map, because when I came back a little bit beyond our position on the hill, I saw Major Reno’s column fighting.
Q. Did you see General Custer after leaving him in sight of the Indian village?
A. No sir.
Q. Can you point out on the map in what direction General Custer went after he got to the point 7?
A. General Custer struck to the right then struck a ravine and went down to the river. We could not go over the bluffs because the bluffs were bad lands,
Q. He could not see as far as to the Indian village then?
A. I don’t know; I was not there myself.
Q. How far did you go till you were sent back?
A. It was about to the head of the ravine.
Q. Where do you fix it, if you can fix it on the map.

The witness indicated the point by figure 8.

Q. At what gait was General Custer and his column riding at the time you left them?
A. They were galloping.
Q. When you saw the Indian village from that point, you have spoken of, was there any dust on the plain?
A. No sir; there was no dust at all - we could see the dogs and children around the tepees.
Q. You think that was about 12 o’clock and the Indians were asleep.
A. Yes sir. General Custer said so. He said “Courage boys, we have got them; the Indians are asleep in their tepees”.
Q. How far was the point where you left General Custer from the point where you first saw the village?
A. I could not judge.
Q. How far was the point you left General Custer from the place where Major Reno made his stand?
A. I don’t know, I could not judge. It was 5 or 600 yards or probably 3/4 of a mile.
Q. How long did you stay with Adjutant Cook before you turned back to carry the message to Captain Benteen?
A. Not more than 10 minutes.
Q. Where did you see Major Reno fighting?
A. I was up on the ridge and he was in the bottom.
Q. Where was that point from which you first saw Major Reno fighting? Was it further up the stream than where he made the stand or at the same place?
A. About at the same place.
Q. Was his line deployed in skirmish form?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Then you would come back about three quarters of a mile from where you left General Custer
A. Yes sir.
Q. You found Major Reno with his line deployed?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Then what did you do?
A. I went ahead to Captain Benteen.
Q. Then you were sent back to Captain McDougall?
A. Yes sir.
Q. When did you next see Major Reno?
A. After the whole battalion came up on the ridge.
Q. Did you see Major Reno afterwards in the timber?
A. No sir, I think not.
Q. How long after Major Reno got on the hill did you come up; or did you get to the hill at the same time Major Reno did, or before or after?
A. The men were retreating at the time we came there.
Q. From the time you had seen Major Reno fighting in the timber how many miles had you traveled?
A. I judge about 2 miles up the river.
Q. How far did you go to Captain McDougall?
A. I think it’s about 150 yards in the rear of the rear of the column.
Q. Would that make more than 2 miles?
A. I judge about 2 miles.
Q. How long were you in coming back after you met Captain Benteen to the spot you met Major Reno?
A. I judge it took 3/4 of an hour or an hour to come back.
Q. 3/4 of an hour after you joined Captain Benteen you came back to the place where Major Reno made his fight on the night of the 25th and found the men retreating up the hill?
A. Yes sir; that was the time when we got on the ridge and saw the men retreating from the bottom and then we halted there.
Q. How long did it take you to go from General Custer to Captain Benteen do you suppose?
A. I can’t tell. I judge I went 5 miles.
Q. How long do you suppose it took you to go that distance?
A. I think it took an hour or an hour and a quarter or an hour and a half I cant tell as I had no watch.
Q. If it took you an hour and a half to go from General Custer to Captain Benteen and an hour and a half to come back from Captain Benteen to where you met Major Reno, then it was two hours and a half from the time you left General Custer till you met Major Reno coming up the hill?
A. I was about an hour and a half going from General Custer to Captain Benteen because it was a long distance, I cant say whether the whole time was two or three hours.
Q. Might it not be less than two hours and a half from the time you left General Custer till you found Major Reno coming up the hill?
A. I judge it was about an hour after I delivered that despatch.
Q. Then it took you about an hour and a half to deliver the despatch?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Did it take you any longer to come back with Captain Benteen’s column than it took you to go to him?
A. I can’t tell you.
Q. How can you fix the time you waited for the column to move and for the pack train to come up?
A. Everybody was there and we were all together then,
Q. Were you doing anything?
A. No sir.
Q. Did not time seem long to you then?
A. Yes sir, sometimes.
Q. Does not time seem longer when you are not doing anything than when you are?
A. Sometimes it goes fast and sometimes it goes slow.
Q. Was there any dust in the village when you passed back to go to Captain Benteen?
A. No sir.
  • QUESTIONS BY THE RECORDER
Q. That place from which you saw the village and children, dogs and ponies; was it the highest point down the river below where Major Reno made his stand?
A. Yes sir, the highest hill; the very highest point around there.
Q. When you moved down afterwards did some of the troops go on that high hill?
A. No sir.
Q. How far was that high point from the head of the ravine you speak of?
A. About 500 yards.
Q. When you stopped to water your horses, as you speak of, was that after Major Reno had gone ahead?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Did you see any trail where General Custer turned off to the right?
A. Yes sir. It looked ike tepee poles had been dragged along there.
Q. Did you follow that trail?
A. Yes sir, we followed it till we got on the hill: then we turned a little to the right.
Q. After watering your horses you pushed ahead with General Custer?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Did you go pretty fast?
A. Yes sir.
Q. When you left General Custer you could not see the river?
A. No sir, it was on the other side of the hill - the hill was in front of us.
Q. You went back with that order. Knowing you had no watch, don’t you know you could not tell anything about the time?
A. I could only tell by the sun.
Q. You could only guess at it?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Did you go back as fast as you could make your horse go?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Did you pass that tepee before you met Captain Benteen?
A. No sir. It was below the tepee I met him.
Q. Did you ever see the place Major Reno crossed over there?
A. No sir.
Q. Were you within sight of the tepee when you met Captain Benteen?
A. No, sir.
Q. Did you cross Major Reno’s trail?
A. No sirs he was sent to the left.
Q. Would you have noticed it if you had?
A. I don’t know - I might have crossed it and not seen it.
  • QUESTIONS BY MAJOR RENO
Q. Did you go to the top of that high point?
A. No sir - nobody but the Indian Scouts.
Q. Did not you and General Custer go to the top of it?
A. No, sir.
Q. Who was with General Custer at that time on the hill?
A. His brothers and his nephew.
Q. Were those all round him at that time?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Every once in a while he would send a message to the companies?
A. Yes sir.
Q. You could not see the timber from that point?
A. I was not on that point.
Q. From the side where you were you could not see it?
A. No sir.

The witness then retired.

The Court then adjourned to meet again tomorrow Saturday, February 1st, 1879.

HERE ENDS VOLUMNE 1 OF THE ORIGINAL RECORD



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