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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

FOURTH DAY

Chicago Illinois Thursday, January 16, 1879 11 o’clock A.M.

The court met pursuant to adjournment.

  • Present
  1. Colonel John H. King, 9th Infantry
  2. Colonel Wesley Merritt, 5th Cavalry
  3. Lieutenant-Colonel W. B. Royall, 3rd Cavalry
  • Recorder
  1. 1st Lieutenant Jesse M. Lee, Adjt. 9th Infantry
  2. Major Reno and his counsel were also present.

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

Major Reno then suggested to the court that it would be in the interest of truth and justice for the court to remove the restriction imposed on the newspaper reporters at the first day’s session, and permit them to take full notes of the proceedings of the court.

Thereupon by direction of the court the Recorder announced that the reporters would be permitted to take notes of the proceedings.

Major Reno then proceeded to cross examination of the witness Lieutenant Wallace as follows: –

Q. At what time was the 7th Regiment broken in two battalions?
A. Shortly after 12 o’clock on 25th June.
Q. Before that time what then the organization of the right?
A. They moved as one Battalion, you may say under General Custer.
Q. What position did Major Reno occupy at that time?
A. He simply moved as the second in command.
Q. Had he any specific command?
A. No sir.
Q. Had he to your knowledge any definite instructions from his commanding officer?
A. No sir. I heard Major Reno say the day he left that he was directed to perform the duties of Lieutenant Colonel.
Q. It was after 12 o’clock on the 25th that the division of the command was made into three battalions?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Under whose command were the different battalions place?
A. One was placed under command of Major Reno, one under command of Captain Benteen and the other was taken by General Custer.
Q. What were the numbers and letters of the companies under Captain Benteen?
A. companies “D”, “K” and “H”.
Q. What were those under Major Reno?
A. Companies “A”, “G” and “M”.
Q. And the balance were under Lieutenant Colonel Custer.
A. There were five companies with General Custer: companies “C”, “D”, “F”, “I” and “L”.
Q. What was the number of men under Major Reno?
A. It did not exceed 110 or 115 including Scouts.
Q. How many were under Lieutenant Colonel Custer.
A. About 225.
Q. how many were under Captain Benteen.
A. Those I only estimate the something larger than Major Reno’s.
Q. With respect to that tributary creek where was the command at the time it was broken in two battalions.
A. We were on the western side or slope just before the little ravine commences running in that forms the Creek.
Q. You had not reached the Creek.
A. No sir; we were on that side of the divide but not to where there was a Creek.
Q. did you hear the orders given to Captain Benteen at the time the division was made.
A. No sir.
Q. What section but Captain Benteen take.
A. He took his Battalion and moved to the left.
Q. Q what distance did he move in that direction.
A. He continued moving the last I saw of him.
Q. When was the last you saw of him before meeting him in the afternoon?
A. A half or three quarters of a mile to the left he passed over a hill out of sight.
Q. When did you afterwards see him?
A. After we retreated from the bottom.
Q. was there, to your knowledge, any announcement made to Major Reno with regard to a junction with Captain Benteen.
A. Not that I know of.
Q. Was there any plan that you know of, for the reuniting of the different battalions at any given point.
A. None that I ever heard of.
Q. After Captain Benteen disappeared with his three companies what did Major Reno and Lieutenant Colonel Custer do.
A. They moved down the little stream, general Custer on the right and Major Reno on the left.
Q. In that position towards each other how far did they moved down that little stream.
A. They must have moved from 9 to 12 miles.
Q. Then what happened.
A. Major Reno was called across to the same side on which General Custer was moving, and the two battalions moved along in parallel columns some distance.
Q. How did Lieutenant Colonel Custer call him there?
A. He motioned him over, and I think afterwards an order came. I know a signal was made with his hat to him.
Q. Major Reno crossed them with his three companies.
A. Yes sir.
Q. Did the command of Lieutenant Colonel Custer halt while Major Reno was crossing the creek?
A. No I don’t think it did. I am not sure. I don’t remember that they halted.
Q. Can you fix it this way: at what part of the column of Lieutenant Colonel Custer did Major Reno strike as he crossed with his three companies?
A. The heads of the two columns came together.
Q. Was there any communication at the time between Lieutenant Colonel Custer and Major Reno that you saw?
A. None that I saw.
Q. Did they continue marching?
A. They moved in parallel columns.
Q. The entire command was then on the right side of the Creek.
A. Yes sir.
Q. How long did they continue moving in that way?
A. They must have moved near a mile.
Q. Where were you with respect to Major Reno at that time?
A. I was riding to the left of his adjutant in his adjutant was writing to the left of Major Reno.
Q. The Adjutant was between you and Major Reno.
A. Yes sir.
Q. Who was his Adjutant?
A. Lieutenant Hodgson.
Q. After they moved that mile what happened, if anything.
A. Lieutenant cook, the Adjutant of the Regiment, came from general Custer to Major Reno, and said to him the Indians are about two miles and a half ahead, they are on the jump: go forward as fast as you think proper, and charge them wherever you find them and he will support you.
Q. You stated yesterday and were examination in chief you had some doubts as to the statement then made: was that doubt as to say other portion of them the word “we”.
A. My mind is not exactly clear: I know he was to be supported.
Q. Was it whether it was “we” or “I” that you were in doubt.

It. Note: The Adjutant would not use the term “we” or “I”. That is he was not happy to do so. Backspace: he was speaking for someone else.

Q. Nor doubt was as to what pronoun was used to represent Lieutenant Colonel Custer.
A. Yes sir: I understood the general Custer was to support him.
Q. was that the first order you heard given to Major Reno after the division of the Regiment in two battalions.
A. Yes sir, it was the only one I heard given.
Q. After that order was received how long did you continue with Major Reno toward the ford?
A. I continued with him till after we crossed.
Q. If there had been another order sent to him between the time he received the one you spoke of, and the crossing of the ford would you not have heard it.
A. Yes sir, I would be very likely to have heard it.
Q. Did you hear any?
A. No sir.
Q. After the order was received what did Major Reno do?
A. He moved off at a gallop.
Q. For what distance?
A. Till we came to the crossing of the Little Big Horn, there they had to come to a walk in the horses scattered.
Q. After they crossed the stream what followed.
A. The command passed through a little belt of timber and halted and closed up the column, and after entering the open ground they formed in line.
Q. I wish to ask you as an officer of cavalry whether, if a body of cavalry is advancing towards a stream at a rapid gate it is not always thrown into some little disorder and needs some little reorganizing on the opposite side of the stream.
A. Yes sir: I never saw that fail.
Q. The disorder on crossing the stream is no evidence of demoralization?
A. It will always occur in spite of any cautions I ever saw.
Q. At the time the halt was made on the farther side of the River do you know whether Major Reno sent back any messenger to Lieutenant Colonel Custer.
A. No, I do not.
Q. Did you know two men named McIllargey and Mitchell?
A. I know McIllargey and had heard of Mitchell.
Q. Did you ever see those men after the command crossed the River?
A. No sir I don’t remember seeing.
Q. if those men had perished or either of them had been killed by Indians in the bottom would you not have been liable to know it.
A. Yes sir.
Q. If they had been killed at any other time while under the command of Major Reno would not your duties have acquainted you with that feet?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Did you ever see either of those men after?
A. No sir.
Q. How far from Major Reno were you at the time he passed out the water on the opposite bank.
A. I don’t remember now. As I passed out I turned to the left and halted and filled my canteen with water.
Q. The left looked up the river.
A. Yes sir.
Q. You did that while Major Reno passed on.
A. Yes sir: I knew there would be a halt to close up and I took advantage of to fill my canteen.
Q. Speaking of the manner in which the cavalry was armed at the time; did they have sabers.
A. No sir there was not a saber in the command.
Q. That they haven’t revolvers.
A. Yes sir.
Q. How many cartridges did a cavalryman have for his revolver?
A. They usually have their revolvers loaded and enough to load them twice more – 12 additional rounds.
Q. Did they have that number of rounds that day?
A. I don’t know that they had.
Q. After a cavalryman expends the cartridges from his revolver his revolver is useless.
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. They were armed with carbines.
A. yes, Sir.
Q. How many cartridges did they have for their carbines?
A. They were supposed to have 40 on their bodies and 40 in their saddle-bags.
Q. After Major Reno reformed the companies what followed? I wish you to speak in connection with this map of Lieutenant Maguire’s. Considering the command now at “A” what was done: first speak of the array in which the command was placed, and then what followed?
A. When we crossed at “A” the command was moving in column of twos – the usual order of moving over a rough country. After passing across they were formed in column of fours. That was in the timber; as they passed on the open prairie companies “A” and “M” were formed left front, into line. They formed in front, and “G” company formed a line in the rear.
Q. Who commanded Company A”A?
A. Captain Moylan.
Q. Who commanded Company “G”?
A. Lieutenant McIntosh.
Q. Who commanded Company “M”?
A. Captain French.
Q. What followed them?
A. They formed in line as they were moving. After forming they moved in a trot for some distance and then in a gallop. As they moved in a gallop the Adjutant came to “G” company and they had to increase their gait and form on the left of the line, forming a line of three companies, Company “G” on the extreme left. We moved on in that order till we reached the woods.
Q. I want to go back: do you or not remember whether you were accompanied to the ford by the Adjutant, Lieutenant Cook and Captain Keogh.
A. They started on with us. I saw them and heard them talking as we rode along.
Q. I speak of that period of time when Major Reno started to obey the order of Lieutenant Colonel Custer to cross the stream.
A. That is what I mean. They were with us when we started from General Custer, and were with us when we crossed back to the left of the little stream which runs into the Little Big Horn. I thought at the time that they went into the fight with us. When they turned back I don’t know.
Q. Did you see them after the fight ill you found their dead bodies?
A. I did not.
Q. If they had continued with you of course they would not have been where they were found?
A. No, Sir.
Q. After the three companies were formed in line what happened?
A. They moved on at a gallop till we approached the woods and the command prepare to fight on foot was given, when they dismounted, leaving the horse-holders mounted.
Q. What was the character of the men of that command – were they all practical horsemen?
A. No, Sir.
Q. Were they all men long in the service?
A. Some had been in for three or four years: others two years, and in “G” company, of which I was 2nd Lieutenant, we received 20 new recruits as we passed through St. Paul in the latter part of April.
Q. Were not some of the enlisted men indifferent horsemen?
A. many of them never were on a horse till they entered on that campaign.
Q. Do you know in point of fact, whether during that gallop after the companies formed a continuous line some of the new recruits had lost, to some extent, the command over their horses?
A. I know how it was in my own company: I had a good deal of trouble in keeping them straight there.
Q. At what point was Major Reno when you halted?
A. He was in front of the line: rather in front or right of the center.
Q. What was done when you halted?
A. The command was dismounted and deployed and a skirmish line.
Q. What was done with the horses?
A. Taken by the horse-holders into the timber.
Q. what portion of the men act as horse-holders?
A. The companies are counted off in sets of four, and No. 4 of each set is a horse holder.
Q. The one-fourth of the command is employed in that service?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. At the time you halted, and indeed before you halted what number of Indians had been seen by yourself?
A. I will have to estimate. There were something over 200.
Q. State if there were evidences, by the dust or otherwise farther down the valley, of a large body of men in motion in your direction.
A. There was a heavy dust in that direction.
Q. Did that indicate the presence of men riding toward you?
A. It indicated the presence of mounted men.
Q. When you crossed the river the order under which Major Reno acted was predicated on two things: first, was it not that the enemy were fleeing?
A. That was what I understood from the order – the Indians were ahead, on the jump.
Q. And the next that the entire command would follow and support you?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. That was the way you understood the order?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. Was not that the understanding of the order by every other officer?
A. It was with those I talked with after and during the fight.
Q. After you dismounted and the horses were sent to the timber the skirmish line was formed?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. Does this dotted line on the map represent the position and angle correctly?
A. No, Sir.
Q. What should be represented on the map?
A. I can’t represent it here, the map is not correct: it does not represent the ground.
Q. How would you represent the skirmish line?
A. By cutting off about three-fourths of it.
Q. Was the angle at the time such as is represented there?
A. The left was farther to the front: more towards the village.
Q. You say Major Reno had about 110 or 115 men?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. What was the distance between the men on the skirmish line?
A. Five yards is supposed to be the interval.
Q. Estimating the number of men and the distance what was the length of the skirmish line?
A. He probably had 70 or 75 men on the skirmish line.
Q. What distance would that cover?
A. If he had 75 men there would be 74 intervals of 5 yards each.
Q. Then at the time the dismount was made Indians had already been seen in numbers from 200 to 300, and there were indications of a larger, can I say a much larger body at the upper end?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. When was the first shot fired by the Indians?
A. After we had moved down about a mile and a half or a mile and three-quarters.
Q. Before or after you dismounted?
A. Before.
Q. What were the Indians doing at the time you dismounted – were they standing still or moving?
A. Riding in regular Indian order and firing.
Q. Moving in what direction?
A. Around to our left and rear.
Q. Does that take them between yourself and the ford?
A. Yes sir, the ford we crossed first.
Q. That was the position and conduct of the Indians at the time you dismounted?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. After the skirmish line was formed what followed?
A. They continued to pour around their number increased slightly in front. They were not standing still, they were riding all the time, firing as they rode, and were passing on the bluff or rather slope on our left out of range.
Q. What was the skirmish line doing at that time?
A. They advanced till the right struck the loup of the stream and then halted.
Q. At what part of that map do you indicate that loup?
A. Below the point “C”.
Q. Then the position of the right of the column at the time you now speak of was lower than “C”?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. When that part of the command reached that point what was done with the skirmish line?
A. It halted.
Q. What was done then?
A. They were firing all that time.
Q. Did they remain in position?
A. They did till the left was compelled to fall back, then the entire line had to retire to the woods.
Q. At that point or a little before that time the troops were actually engaged in fighting?
A. Yes sir they fired on us before we dismounted.
Q. What was Major Reno doing at that time if anything?
A. After he had seen the men in line, he took Company “G” into the woods, and I only know from hearsay then we went to that point of the woods nearest the village. I don’t know whether to make a sally into the village or not.

I know he went there with that one company.

Q. What officer of Company “G” accompanied him?
A. Lieutenant McIntosh.
Q. He was killed?
A. Yes sir, on the retreat from the bottom.
Q. Did you see Major Reno at the time he took Company “G”?
A. Yes sir I was him go back into the woods.
Q. What was his conduct as an officer in respect to judgment and courage at that time?
A. All that you could expect from any one.
Q. Up to that time how does the disposition of the forces and the handling of them meet our judgment as a soldier?
A. I don’t think they could have been handled any better.
Q. After Major Reno returned from his examination at the edge of the timber what took place?
A. It must have been soon after his return the charge was ordered.
Q. Did you hear the order given?
A. I heard the word passed down from man to man that they were going to charge.
Q. With respect to the firing of the troops: I want it not for the information of the Court, but to complete the record. What is the practice of soldiers engaged in battle with Indians in position as those now occupy with respect to volley firing?
A. I never heard of any.
Q. Would not the firing be by each man?
A. Each man loads and fires at will, and selects his own object to fire at.
Q. Is that the usual practice?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. Was such practice followed by that command?
A. Yes it was individual firing entirely. It starts out as file firing but during the fight each man fires when he gets a good chance without reference to any body on the right or left.
Q. Had the troops been firing frequently or not?
A. Yes sir, very frequently. The difficulty was to prevent them firing too much.
Q. Do you know what amount of ammunition had been used by the men – the average amount of ammunition?
A. I know that their 50 rounds of ammunition were pretty well used up, for once company had to withdraw part of their men to get ammunition from the saddle-bags.
Q. How long had you been in the timber at that time?
A. That is a hard question to answer.
Q. Was it half or three quarters of an hour?
A. We were in the bottom about three quarters of an hour, and about two-thirds of that time we were on the line.
Q. It would require less than three-quarters of an hour to use much ammunition?
A. It did not require it, but about that much time as occupied in using it.
Q. Was there other ammunition within reach of the troops on the side of the river?
A. No sir.
Q. You say as you went back the Indians rode up and fired on the cavalrymen who were not using their pistols: what was the reason the men did not use their pistols.
A. Probably they had fired the six rounds.
Q. And the pistols were empty?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. Before Major Reno retired from the timber, what was the position of the Indians on the left side you?
A. They were all around us.
Q. Were they between the ford “A” and yourselves?
A. Yes sir they were at the fort “A” long before the line was drawn into the woods.
Q. In any considerable numbers, just before retiring?
A. Yes sir, lots of them.
Q. How were they on the opposite side of the river?
A. They are moving down there in large numbers.
Q. Were they in the timber itself, opposite to where the command was?
A. Some few were – they getting in there.
Q. Do you remember having had a conversation with Captain Moylan while in the timber, with reference to sending some person back to communicate with Lieutenant Colonel Custer?
A. It was not in the timber, it was on the line soon after the line advanced to where it halted. I than for the first time saw the village, and looking beck I did not see General Custer coming. The first officer I met was Captain Moylan, and I said to him the village was there and asked him if we could not communicate with General Custer. There was a half-breed scout there by the name of Jackson, and we asked him if he could not go back. He waived his hand to the rear and said there were too many of them for one man to go through. That was the first time I had seen the Indians in our rear.
Q. Up that to that time you expected Lieutenant Colonel Custer and his men to support you.
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. Having in view the position and number of the Indians and the condition in which the troops were then under Major Reno, and their number, what in your judgment, was the correctness of the order he gave, to move to higher ground on the opposite side of the river?
A. I think it was about the only thing he could have done under the circumstances.
Q. You were asked yesterday about the casualties the command received on the way from the timber to the hill top on the opposite side of the river. What in your judgment would have been the casualties of the command if they had remained in the timber?
A. Major Reno and every man with him would have been killed.
Q. That is your judgment.
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. Was that your judgment at the time?
A. I did not think so much about being killed: I thought it was a pretty good idea to get out of there.
Q. Then the plan of Major Reno in retreating from the timber at that time meets your approval?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. Has time and reflection confirmed you in that same view?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. I ask your opinion as a soldier: when an officer is sent with a part of a command to attack a fleeing enemy, and he finds that instead of the enemy being in flight they are advancing in considerable numbers to attack him, is it not a matter of discretion with him what shall be his conduct?
A. I should think so.
Q. When an officer is in charge of men, and is in a position which in his judgment is not proper for defense, and has to be abandoned for one more suitable for defense, is it not within his discretion to return to the other position?
A. It is his duty as an officer to do so.
Q. Was it his duty as an officer to wait till a considerable part of his command was killed before he ventured to make the move?
A. No sir: it was his duty to take care of his command.
Q. If Major Reno was satisfied that the timber could not be held against the Indians and a more advantageous position could be taken on the bluff on the opposite side of the river, was it not his duty as an officer to go there?
A. I think so.
Q. What was Major Reno’s conduct with regard to judgment and discretion in the timber, as far as you saw it?
A. I think it was good, the only way in which it could have been carried out.
Q. What was his behavior with respect to courage?
A. I could not find any fault – I think it was good.
Q. Did you see any evidence of whatever of fear on his part during that time?
A. None whatever.
Q. Then the movement from the timber to the heights on the opposite side of the river meet your approval as a soldier?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. And still meets it?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. The command was passed to charge back to the river?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. Do you know who gave that command?
A. It must have originated with Major Reno.
Q. Did it get to you in the ordinary way?
A. Under the circumstances it did: there was not time to send an orderly with it, and the order was passed down the line.
Q. That was the way you received it?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. In what order did the force return to the river?
A. That I can’t say accurately: I think it was Company “A” then “M” then “C”.
Q. Where was Major Reno in reference to the command?
A. He must have been at the head of the column – I did not see him.
Q. After the command reached the river, what took place: they passed through what kind of a country?
A. They turned the point of a ridge and up a very steep hill through the Bad Lands to the top of the ridge.
Q. They reached that point which is marked on the map with circular lines?
A. They stopped about where the dotted line ends?
Q. How many men had been killed and wounded in the bottom during that retreat?
A. There were about 25 killed and 7 wounded in the bottom.
Q. How many in the timber?
A. I don’t know only by hearsay. I saw two and heard of one in the timber and there were one or two wounded in there that I heard officers speak of.
Q. Do you know whether at the time or before the time Major Reno decided to leave the timber there was firing from the opposite side of the river from the base of the foot hills or bluffs?
A. Not from the base of the bluffs: there was firing from the opposite bank of the stream. They fired into my company as I started to move out, and they had been firing before that.
Q. Do you know whether before retiring, the Indians had commenced to cross from the other side of the river to the side on which you were?
A. They were coming, not from the timber, but across this bottom. There is timber indicated on the map, but there is not timber there.
Q. They were crossing the river to your right?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. Fix as far as you can, the period of time when you made the first fort at “A”: the time you reached the timber and the time you reached the hill on which you made your final stand.
A. I can simply give the time indicated by my own watch. It was probably say 20 minutes after two when we crossed the creek first. I did not take much over ten minutes to get to the timber – say half past 2. If we were there 45 minutes, it would be a quarter after three or approximately that time when we got on top of the hill or half past three taking the time it would take to get back to the hill.
Q. A quarter after 3.
A. Well, say half-past 3. There would be taking the time to go across the creek and up the hill.
Q. When you reached the top of the hill, what did the command do?
A. It halted and dismounted, and the first thing done was to get the companies together, organize them, and then they had to count off again and dismount so as to make another stand.
Q. Were there Indians on the hill-tops across there before you made the crossing?
A. Yes, sir; it has always been my impression that Lieutenant Hodgson was killed from a shot fired from the bluffs. Dr. DeWolf was killed by the Indians on that side.
Q. What was done with the command when you were on the top of the hill; what disposition was made of it?
A. They were first dismounted deployed on the crest of the bluff, and then mounted and moved back and about this time word came that Captain Benteen was coming.
Q. who gave the order under which this disposition of the troops was made?
A. It must have been made by Major Reno.
Q. Did you see Major Reno at the time?
A. I was not close to him, but I saw him there.
Q. Did you at that time see any indication of fear or timidity on his part?
A. None.
Q. What judgment did you form of the correctness of the disposition of the troops at that period? Was it proper or not?
A. I think it was.
Q. Captain Benteen was seen to be advancing. In what portion of the country was he seen to be coming?
A. He was very close to us at that time. He was not coming over the trail we had come on, but he had diverged to the right, and was coming up there.
Q. How far distant was he from you when you saw him coming?
A. Not over one or two hundred yards – rising the hill.
Q. Was he in advance of his command?
A. I can’t answer that; I don’t know. He was not very far in advance of it anyway.
Q. Do you know where the pack train was at that time?
A. It must have been three miles in the rear.
Q. Could you see it?
A. I saw the dust.
Q. But you couldn’t distinguish it?
A. I knew what it was.
Q. but you could not distinguish, by your eye sight, what it was?
A. N, sir: but I could see about where it was by the dust.
Q. Do you know whether Major Reno rode forward to meet Benteen?
A. Yes, sir; I think he did.
Q. Do you know whether he at once returned to the command?
A. I think they came back together, but I am not positive about that.
Q. The troops, you said, had reached a point where they stood in a ravine. Do you know whether the Indians were at the mouth of that ravine; after you had come out, and when you were on the top of the bluff, do you know whether the Indians were at the mouth of the ravine below?
A. Yes, sir; they did come across below.
Q. Where was Lieutenant Hodgson killed?
A. He was killed about 50 yards after he had crossed the stream.
Q. On the upper bank?
A. On the bank to which we had retired.
Q. On the upper bank?
A. yes, sir; where the bluffs were.
Q. Do you know whether any effort was made to recover the valuables from his person, and, if so, who made that effort?
A. major Reno went down there with a party.
Q. Did he lead them himself?
A. He went with them.
Q. He was chief in command, of course?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. What was the number of the men whom he took with him?
A. I don’t think it was more than three or four.
Q. Are you accurate as to that number?
A. No sir.
Q. Who was with him as a noncommissioned officer, if you remember?
A. That I don’t know.
Q. Do you remember whether the valuables were recovered from the person of Lieutenant Hodgson?
A. Some of them were. I know I heard Major Reno speak of getting his ring.
Q. At that time?
A. I think that was the time. I think his watch was not obtained, because it had been jerked out of his pocket before Major Reno god down there.
Q. But other things were recovered?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. After Major Reno returned from the water’s edge, or from the place where Lieutenant Hodgson’s body was found, what did he do?
A. That I don’t know.
Q. If Major Reno at that time had been shaking with fear, do you suppose as a soldier, that he would have taken those men and gone back to the ravine through which he had just come?
A. I don’t think he would.
Q. Was it necessary for him to do so if he had not wanted to do so?
A. No; he could have sent some one.
Q. After he returned, what took place then in respect to the union of your battalion with the battalion under Captain Benteen?
A. I don’t know. I didn’t receive any orders, and I was not close enough; his companies came up there and were for a time halted there.
Q. Where did he take his position?
A. It was rather on the left of the position, I think, which we then occupied.
Q. Lower down the river?
A. Speaking with regard to the river, it was up the river.
Q. True: I had forgotten the direction of the stream. At that time, how many dead men were there in the command? How many men had you lost by being killed?
A. We had lost twenty-seven killed, seven wounded, and Dr. DeWolf and one scout and an interpreter.
Q. Where were the wounded men?
A. They were there with us.
Q. They had not been abandoned?
A. No, sir.
Q. How long after Captain Benteen came up did the pack-train come up?
A. It must have been an hour.
Q. What was done by Major Reno and the officers and men under him, if anything, until the pack-train came up? If any order was given to any company, state what it was?
A. I can’t say in regard to orders. I was not with Major Reno and didn’t hear what orders were given, but I saw one company move out.
Q. What company was that?
A. That was D company, under Captain Weir.
Q. In what direction did it move?
A. It moved down the stream from the position we occupied.
Q. In the direction in which Custer and his men afterward found?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. How long after Reno and his men reached the top of the bluffs, did Captain Weir move out with his company?
A. That, I don’t remember. I can’t state, for I don’t recollect.
Q. Could you to your own satisfaction give any kind of an estimate?
A. No, sir.
Q. During the time that Major Reno was there, and before Captain Weir moved out, what kind of firing did you hear in the direction in which Custer was afterward found?
A. Well, in that direction I didn’t hear any. I heard some firing to the left.
Q. Was it volley-firing, or firing such as would indicate that there was a general fight going on?
A. No, sir, it was not even what you would call sharp firing. It was a few shots – scattering.
Q. During the time that the pack-train was coming up, what attention, if any, was paid to the wounded?
A. There was some water obtained, and they were given water. I don’t know whether the doctor gave them any medical attention or not.
Q. Were any preparations made to carry them with their command in case the command should go forward?
A. Nothing, only the company commander took off some saddle-blankets and laid the wounded men on them, and assigned six men to carry each wounded man.
Q. Then every one of these wounded men required the attention of six men while the column was in motion?
A. Yes, sir; at least, six, and they couldn’t carry them far at a time.
Q. There were seven wounded men at that time?
A. About that number – five or seven.
Q. Then you cannot place the time when Captain Weir moved out, with respect to the time when Major Reno came to the top of the heights?
A. No, sir; it was some little time after Captain Weir moved.
Q. How long after Captain Weir moved out did the pack-train come up?
A. Well, I think the train came up soon after he started.
Q. What was done when that came up?
A. There was one mule loaded with ammunition – and the boxes were cut open and the ammunition distributed to the companies.
Q. To those men who had been in the timber?
A. To the three companies that had come out.
Q. What was then done?
A. Then the companies were mounted, and we started on.
Q. In what direction?
A. In the direction that D company had started in down the creek.
Q. At whose orders?
A. By Major Reno’s orders.
Q. Then the entire command started in the direction that company D had gone?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And Company D had gone, so far as you could judge, by Major Reno’s orders?
A. I suppose so.
Q. What was done with the wounded when the march was commenced?
A. Captain Moylan had to fall to the rear, and the tried to carry them along. He didn’t get very far, though, until he found he was being left behind, and he sent word to see whether he could get assistance from Captain McDougall – he sent word that he couldn’t go any farther.
Q. Up to this time, had there been any communication whatever between General Custer’s command and this?
A. None that I have ever heard of.
Q. Had any communication been received by major Reno or any officer under him, as to where Custer was, up to that time?
A. Nothing only a trumpeter had been sent back and said that he had gone that way.
Q. To whom was the trumpeter sent?
A. To Captain Benteen.
Q. That trumpeter’s name was Martin, I believe?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. When was the last time that you saw General Custer and his column?
A. Soon after the order was given to Major Reno to move ahead.
Q. Before you crossed the river to go the timber?
A. Yes, sir. As we were moving down the Indians were in our front and I was looking that way.
Q. When the command moved out in the direction in which Captain Weir had been sent, what was the order of the march?
A. His company, I think, was still ahead, and then companies H and K come next, and after that, I am not positive what the order was.
Q. Where was Major Reno in respect to that?
A. He was ahead.
Q. Leading it?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. How far did the command move?
A. I don’t think we got more than a mile – that is, I don’t think the head of the column got more than a mile.
Q. That part of the column where Major Reno was?
A. I suppose he was there; he wasn’t in the rear.
Q. In what part were you?
A. I was toward the rear.
Q. With company G, I believe?
A. Yes, sir; I had seven men of Company G.
Q. How did the column come to stop marching?
A. I thought at the time it was because Captain Moylan could not keep up and bring his wounded along, but heavy firing had commenced in front with D company?
Q. That was in advance?
A. Yes, sir; and I was then assigned to a position on the right on a high point, and from there I could see all over where Custer’s battle had occurred, and there were lots of Indians there riding around quietly, no firing, going on. They seemed to be moving back our way.
Q. In large numbers?
A. Yes, sir, the whole field seemed to be moving toward us.
Q. Then you heard the firing of the company under Captain Weir?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. What did that company do?
A. They dismounted and fought for a while, and then moved back to where Captain Moylan was.
Q. Do you know what order, if any, Lieutenant Hare, the acting adjutant of the command after Lieutenant Hodgson, had been killed, gave to Captain Weird?
A. No, sir. I didn't see him start.
Q. Do you know what report he made to Major Reno after the command had advanced about a mile, or what order he had given to Captain Weir upon his own responsibility?
A. No, air, I don't know anything about that.
Q. How was the firing in front of Captain Weir’s company?
A. Pretty heavy.
Q. How were the number of Indians – large or not?
A. There were plenty of them there and others coming up.
Q. What would you estimate the number to be, so far as you could estimate it?
A. Estimating all that I saw, there were several thousand.
Q. What was the action of company D?
A. They had halted there.
Q. But after they returned they came back to the column?
A. Yes, sir - well the head of the column had reached near that point.
Q. What action did Major Reno then take after Captain Weir had returned to the column?
A. Well, I think the column had moved up to about where Captain Weir was.
Q. Then what was done?
A. There was a general movement back to the position we took and occupied during the afternoon of the 25th and during the 26th of June.
Q. Under whose order was that movement made?
A. Major Reno’s, I suppose.
Q. How was it made; I mean, was it being done correctly according to the laws of military science?
A. It was made quietly and actively.
Q. In a way that now approves itself to your judgment?
A. Yes, sir; there was no rush. I know my company moved back at a walk.
Q. Was there any high point of land on the side of the river on which you were that was any nearer to the water than that which Major Reno took when he crossed over?
A. Yes, near the water.
Q. Where was that?
A. We had passed over it going to the point where the Indians first engaged company D.
Q. But, in respect to the timber – was there any high point nearer the water than that which Major Reno took?
A. Yes, the one passed over and the one D company had at the point where it was attacked.
Q. When you returned to the place that you had occupied, when you crossed over the river, what disposition was made of the command?
A. They were dismounted and formed, not in a circle but as near in a circle as the ground would permit. The horses were put in one of the swales of the ravine.
Q. Can you give any description to indicate the character of the ravine – was it like a saucer?
A. Something like that, only with one side out.
Q. A dismount was made, and the horses were placed in this depression?
A. Yes, and then the men were deployed some distance around the outside, taking the crest of the ridge and occupying the lower edge of this depression, so as to form a complete chain all round the horses.
Q. Were the wounded men you speak of brought back by Major Reno, or were they abandoned?
A. They were brought back and placed inside of the horses. There was an open space inside of the horses, in which the wounded were placed.
Q. Who gave the orders for this disposition of the command?
A. I suppose it was made under Major Reno’s orders.
Q. Did you see him at that time?
A. I saw him riding round when the men were being placed in position.
Q. What was his demeanor then in respect to courage?
A. As good as that of anyone.
Q. Did you see any evidences of fear about him at that time?
A. None.
Q. In your judgment as a soldier, having reference now to the command, and its surroundings, and the force opposing it, was the disposition of the command correct or not?
A. It was the best that the ground would permit.
Q. Has reflection altered your view of that?
A. No, Sir. I am still of that belief.
Q. Were you protected in any way by rifle-pits, or any other artificial protection at the time the command returned to this saucer-like hilltop?
A. No. There was scattering sage brush, but the men simply laid down on the ground.
Q. During this time what had been the conduct of the Indians?
A. They were surrounding us, and as we fell back to this position they followed up the command, and occupied one or two high points, and then swung around and occupied every hill and point that would afford them a position to fire from.
Q. What time did you reach the points on which you made your stand?
A. It was sometime between 5 and 6 o’clock on the 25th of June.
Q. In a higher altitude than this?
A. Yes.
Q. And at a time when the day was almost at its greatest length?
A. Yes.
Q. At what time did deep twilight cone on?
A. It must have been 9 o’clock or afterward.
Q. The Indians were on all sides and firing?
A. Yes.
Q. You had no rifle-pits, and were unprotected by any artificial means?
A. Yes.
Q. What, according to your judgment, was the number of effective was Major Reno had then in his command?
A. Between 250 and 280, I guess.
Q. How long did you say the firing continued?
A. Until dark.
Q. Till about 9 o’clock?
A. Yes.
Q. What was its character?
A. It was very heavy.
Q. Have you ever seen heavier firing?
A. No.
Q. It was continuous?
A. Most continuous. There would be a lull, and then it would start again, and the bullets would come like hail.
Q. What did the men do during the rest of the night?
A. They scraped up a little place in the ground to get what shelter they could.
Q. You said yesterday the command had three spades?
A. Yes. The men used their tin-cups and knives, and axes were used for chopping the ground. It was very hard and stiff, something like putty.
Q. Do you know whether the command for the troops to fortify themselves was given by Major Reno?
A. That I do not know. They commenced firing on the opposite side, and as soon as we could get the spades we scraped up places for our protection.
Q. Did you see Reno during the night?
A. I do not remember.
Q. At what time did the fire recommence in the morning?
A. Before it was clear daylight.
Q. At what hour would that be?
A. At that season of the year, it must have been a little before 3 o’clock.
Q. How long was it continued?
A. It was continued heavily until after 10 o’clock. There was a good deal of firing from 10 to 12, but during the afternoon there was no continuous firing but now and then, when we got the men at work they would open fire on us again. Later there were just a few sharpshooters.
Q. At what time do you fix that?
A. It was afternoon about 4 o’clock.
Q. What followed then?
A. Well, later there was no firing at all, and about sunset, or before sunset – I do not remember exactly which – my attention was called to the village. The Indians were moving on the opposite side of the stream, moving up this gentle slope which runs back to the Big Horn Mountains.
Q. You saw the Indian village defile before you on the opposite side?
A. Yes.
Q. How long did it take them to pass the point of view you occupied?
A. A long time. They were moving over country that was almost level. We estimated the village to be two and a half to three miles long, and half a mile wide.
Q. What opinion did you form of the number of fighting men in that Indian procession?
A. At the time I thought there were some four or five thousand. From what I have heard from Indians since I think there were nine thousand.
Q. What was done by the command during the time you are speaking of – the afternoon and the evening of the 25th?
A. The position was changed slightly, so as to command the approaches to the water, and the get away from the stench of the dead horses and men lying around.
Q. Can you indicate the position on the map?
A. Not on this map.
Q. How as the command stationed when you took this new position?
A. Captain Benteen’s company occupied a prominent point near where he had been located during the fight. Entrenchments had been thrown up there. Then to his left, running down one of the spurs of the hill to the river, was Captain Weir’s company, Captain Godfrey’s, and mine, and, I think, Captain French’s. On another ridge, running down on Captain Benteen’s right, was Captain Moylan and Captain McDougall’s company. The command was formed rather in the shape of a U, with the ends resting on the bluffs above the river, and within the branches of the U was a ravine, down which the men could go and rush out and get water, but the moment they would step out of the mouth of the ravine they would be under fire from the bank opposite.
Q. Where were the horses?
A. The horses were placed in the head of this ravine and sheltered from fire.
Q. So you remained during that night?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. And how long the next morning?
A. The next morning we remained there until toward 9 o’clock. Then we saw a dust rising down the river, and by scouts being sent out we found it was General Terry, and then there wasn’t so much attention paid to this line.
Q. What communication, if any, did you have with General Terry, and under whose orders?
A. When we found out who was coming, Major Reno directed me to go down to him and report to him who was up there, and show him how to get up, because the country was very rough.

Recorder Lee – What date was this?

A. This was the 27th of June.

Recorder Lee – Then I believe the ruling of this court was that this investigation was to be confined to these matters occurring on the 25th and 26th of June, and entirely to those days. I simply speak of this because the witness is now being examined with reference to events that occurred on the 27th, concerning which the court is not ordered to inquire into the conduct of Major Reno. Furthermore, I have not, in the examination in chief of this witness, touched upon any matters of that kind. I did not intend to make any objection to the cross-examination of this witness, though it might occasionally touch upon matters of the 25th and 26th of June, that I had not brought out in the examination in chief, nor do I object in that regard. But to this question I submit whether it is not going beyond the ruling of the court.

Mr. Gilbert – Technically speaking, this objection is perhaps correct. The 26th perhaps should conclude the inquiry, but the question we now ask is strictly within the spirit of the ruling that this court has made. That ruling extended the scope of your investigation. Now we ask the question in regard to Major Reno’s conduct, while he was in command of these troops, and before he was relieved from responsibility, and we say that is a part of that general conduct which is in review before this commission. I will admit further that some of the questions I have asked the witness on cross-examination are not responsive nor in explanation of matters developed in the direct examination. I have asked them, not with any desire to contradict the witness on anything he has stated. He is certainly one of the most important witnesses to the produced by either side – if we can claim to have sides here. The recorder kindly turned him over to us yesterday afternoon, and I knew his sources of information had not been fully developed before this court. Now, I submit it will be but just to have the entire conduct of Colonel Reno during the time he was in command there inquired into before this court, so that you would have a full view of everything of importance occurred during that campaign.

After consulting with the other members of the court the President said:

“The witness will answer the question.”

Mr. Gilbert – What was the conversation you had with General Terry at the time? I speak more particularly in reference to your ignorance of where General Custer was and the ignorance of the entire command.

A. In compliance with the orders of Major Reno, I mounted my horse and rode down across the ford where we had retreated, and met General Terry beyond the point where our skirmish line had fallen back. I reported to him that I had been sent out by Major Reno to show him the approaches to his position. He then asked me who were there. I told him Major Reno with seven companies, and he went on to ask me in detail what had occurred; how the fight had commenced, and the result. When I got time I then asked him General Custer was, and received a reply that gave me to understand that they had all been killed.
Q. Up to the time you made this inquiry of General Terry did you know where Custer was?
A. No, Sir; I did not.
Q. Was there any knowledge on the part of Major Reno, or any officer or soldier of his command, as to where Custer was?
A. None whatever. We were looking for him back the first night he was away, and we didn’t understand why we hadn’t seen him.
Q. Now as exhibiting the degree of feeling on the part of the command, you stated yesterday there was some swearing in regard to Custer among the command under Reno. What was the character of that?
A. Well they thought that Custer had sent us in, and had gone off and left us to look out for ourselves; that he had made an attack and probably been defeated, and he had gone down the river to meet General Terry.
Q. Did you go over the country between the position that Reno held, and where Custer and his men were found?
A. Yes, Sir. I went over it on the 28th of June.
Q. Do you know whether Captain Benteen had been sent over it before?
A. He was sent over it on the morning of the 27th of June, soon after General Terry arrived and told him about it.
Q. That same day.
A. Yes, Sir. Captain Benteen was told to saddle up, and told to go and see if he could identify the bodies.
Q. Who gave that order?
A. I do not know from whence it emanated. General Terry and Major Reno were together.
Q. On Lieutenant Maguire’s map there is a dotted line leading along the high land there on the same side of that stream. Does that represent to your judgment the course that Custer took with his men?
A. That I am unable to say. That entire country was cut up by pony tracks and I can only form an estimate from the men we found dead where Custer had fought. The line the right indicates, probably, as near we will ever know.
Q. Which line do you mean now?
A. The line leading from “B” up.
Q. “B” is marked there as a ford?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. Did you examine the neighborhood at that ford?
A. Not particularly.
Q. Did you see at that ford any indications, by blood or otherwise, that there had been any struggle there?
A. No, Sir.
Q. If there had been an attempt to cross at that ford would there not have been something, in your judgment, to indicate it?
A. There would have been dead horses or dead men there.
Q. Were there any dead horses around there?
A. There were, but not at the crossing. They were further back.
Q. Where was the first dead man found?
A. It was back some two or three hundred yards, at the point indicated on the map.
Q. Where did you find the first of Custer’s men?
A. That was the first.
Q. Where did you find the next?
A. After crossing the first ravine as we moved down the river.
Q. Where did you find the next?
A. On the ridge, following that dark line on the map to the top of the ridge. There were some few found there until you reached the top of the ridge.
Q. How many dead men did you find?
A. That I am unable to state. The way they were buried was the companies were formed in columns of fours and moved in parallel columns, and each company as it moved along would bring the dead it found, and after they had completed this duty the number that each company commander had buried was reported to me, and from that the sum total was made up.
Q. You could not tell from your own knowledge?
A. No Sir.
Q. Who made that disposition of the troops?
A. Major Reno.
Q. Where was the company under Captain Calhoun found?
A. That was found on top of the last ridge; not the one on which General Custer was killed, but the one that ran at right angles to it.
Q. Marked on the map by the letter “D”?
A. Yes, Sir, about that place.
Q. Did Captain Calhoun’s men, from the position in which they were found lying, indicate that the line had been drawn up in order of battle?
A. There was some indications of a skirmish line.
Q. Had you seen before you reached that point any indications of a skirmish line?
A. None. I afterward saw in the ravine some men lying in skirmish order, but they were at the bottom of a deep ravine, and I don’t’ know how it was.
Q. What company were they members of?
A. Of “E” company – Lieutenant Smith.
Q. After leaving Calhoun’s then whose did you find?
A. Captain Keogh.
Q. In what order were they?
A. They were lying half way down the northern side of the slope.
Q. Between Custer and Calhoun?
A. Between Custer and Calhoun, but half way down the slope, and they appeared to me to have been killed running in file.
Q. Was their position such that it indicated that they had been brought into skirmish line?
A. I don’t know whether they were in skirmish line or not. They were killed at intervals, but, from their position, I don’t think they could have been in skirmish line.
Q. How far from Calhoun’s men were those men found?
A. Between Custer and Calhoun’s men.
Q. At what distance?
A. The first was probably not more than twenty or thirty yards, and they were killed at intervals.
Q. They were scattered along?
A. Yes, Sir; as they went toward Custer.
Q. After you passed Captain Keogh’s men where did you next find dead men?
A. His men occupied the most of the ground well on toward Custer.
Q. Sprinkled along.
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. Where was Custer?
A. He was near that point marked “E” on the map.
Q. In what position were those men found about Custer?
A. They were right around four or five of them were piled up in a heap beside a horse, and the body of General Custer was lying rather across one of the men.
Q. Were there any indications of a prolonged struggle?
A. They had struggled, but I do not think for any great length of time. They had apparently tried to lead the horses in a circle on the point of the ridge, and had killed them there, and apparently made an effort for a final stand.
Q. How many men were gathered around General Custer?
A. Well, there were about twenty or thirty, but not right around.
Q. Where did you find the men of the other companies?
A. They were clattered all over the hill, south and east of General Custer.
Q. Did you see any evidence anywhere of any company being drawn in skirmish line – in a form which indicated a prolonged resistance except the men in Calhoun’s company?
A. No, Sir.
Q. With respect to cartridge shells, did you find any?
A. At one or two places I saw little piles of twenty-five or thirty.
Q. Where was this?
A. They were near where Captain Calhoun was killed.
Q. Did you find any elsewhere?
A. A very few. You would find them scattered around, but whether they had been sued by the men or the Indians we could not tell.
Q. Now judging by the number of cartridges at the position in which you found these men separated from each other, and at irregular intervals, did you think that the struggle with General Custer and his command against the Indians lasted any considerable length of time?
A. No, Sir. I think the Indians met him as he came down to this supposed crossing, and did not give him time to make a stand.
Q. What was the character of the country for the purposes of protection – was it such as would enable him to make a prolonged resistance?
A. No; his position was on a ridge. There was no way of his protecting himself. If he got behind the ridge to defend himself at one point he would expose himself at some other point. The land was a series of hills and there were one or two points a little higher than the point he held. There were no possible means of sheltering himself on the ridge he occupied.
Q. Judging from the number of empty cartridges, and from the character of the ground on which these men fell, and from the position they occupied toward each other, what do you think was the duration of that fight?
A. Not much more than half an hour.
Q. From the point where you last saw General Custer and his command to the point where you finally found his body, what was the distance?
A. It must have been between six and seven miles.
Q. Can you fix the period when you last saw him?
A. It was immediately after we receive the order to move forward.
Q. What period of time, in your judgment, would it require for a command equipped as his was to move from that point to the point where his body was found having in view the character of the country?
A. It would require more than an hour. They could not move at a gallop all the way.
Q. When Custer had marched away what number of men were in his command?
A. About two hundred and twenty-five.
Q. And all Custer’s men were killed as far as you know?
A. Yes.
Q. How much fewer in number were those under Major Reno after Colonel Benteen had joined him, deducting the number of dead and the number of wounded?
A. After the union of the forces Major Reno must have had somewhere in the vicinity of two hundred and eighty men.
Q. I understand that to be the aggregate of available men with Major Reno?
A. Yes, after he was joined by the companies of Captain Benteen and Captain McDougall.
Q. After you took up the position on the hilltop, in that saucer-like depression, do you know whether the command was assailed by the whole number of Indians?
A. That I cannot answer.
Q. By what number of Indians do you suppose you were assailed?
A. There must have been several thousand, judging by the space they occupied, and the quantity of firing that was done.
Q. Between 6 o’clock in the evening and about 9, when you say the firing ceased, was the command protected by any kind of fortification whatever?
A. None whatever.
Q. Was there any other command save that of Major Reno that crossed the Little Big Horn River?
A. Not to my knowledge.

Mr. Gilbert – Now here rises a little embarrassment on my part. There is the letter of Mr. Whittaker which you have had introduced, and it contains matters not only against Major Reno, but indirectly against Captain Benteen. If this entire record is to be considered by the court, of course I wish to negative, by cross-examination, the charges again at Major Reno and Captain Benteen both. If Captain Benteen’s conduct is to pass directly in review before this court, there are one or two acts of his which will always be memorable in the history of arms, and I would feel that I had done injustice to him if I should permit this witness to leave the stand without asking him in regard to captain Benteen’s heroic charge to get water for the wounded men. You will see the difficulty of my position, and I submit it now for you advice and decision. This letter says – I have not read it, but I have heard what its contents are – that General Custer would have achieved a victory if it hadn’t been for certain things on the part of Major Reno and Captain Benteen. If this entire letter is admitted, of course Captain Benteen’s conduct will be before the court.

Recorder Lee – The order is for an inquiry into the conduct of Major Reno, and although a great many people’s and officers’ names may be mentioned in connection with this inquiry, and although it may be necessary to detail what a great many officers did as bearing some relation to the conduct of Major Reno on those two days, I still hold that, as far as Captain Benteen is concerned, whether his action was praiseworthy or the opposite, it is not to pass under the review of this court.

Mr. Gilbert – Technically not, but this court has the care of the reputation of a brother soldier, and if this matter is to be developed according to this letter, then I ask that the real part Captain Benteen sustained in this matter should be brought before you. I cannot leave this case standing on one leg. If this part of the letter censuring Captain Benteen is stricken out, it will be satisfactory, but I cannot negative a part of this letter and leave the other part to stand if it is to be a matter of considerations before this court. As a matter of justice to Captain Benteen, I submit it to the court.

The court was cleared and closed, and after mature deliberation was reopened and the decision of the court announced as follows:

“The court decides that it is appointed to investigate the conduct of Major M. A. Reno, of the 7th Cavalry, and will confine its investigation to the officer, and will not permit an inquiry into the conduct of any other officer, with a view to praise or censure.”

The cross-examination continued:

Q. I wish you to search your memory through, and recall the events of those two days, and sate in what point, if any, Major Reno exhibited any lack of courage as an officer and a soldier.
A. None that I can recall, or can find fault with.
Q. Was there any point at which major Reno showed any want of military skill in handling his command?
A. No. I do not recall any.
Q. What was the condition of the forces – the horses and the men – at the time the major received his orders to cross to the attack?
A. They must have been pretty tired.

Mr. Gilbert (to the court) – I do not wish to inquire as to any transaction before this time, but in order to fix the condition of the horses I would like to understand precisely what they had gone through, if the court sees proper to admit me to do so.

The court assented and Mr. Gilbert asked:

Q. Why do you say the horses were very much exhausted?
A. We left the mouth of the Rosebud on the 22nd of June, and made a march of twelve miles that day. The next day, we made a march of thirty-three or thirty-five miles.
Q. That was the 23rd?
A. Yes. There was not much grazing to be had, and very little grain to feed horses upon – not more than a pound or two, the regular allowance being twelve pounds. The next day we made near thirty miles, and went into camp. There was not much grass, for the ponies had eaten it up. We started again at 11 o’clock that night and move don until about daylight. The horses were stopped again without anything to eat. We moved on again at 8 or 8:45, having gone about ten miles during the night. From that point we moved on into the fight.
Q. Can you fix the number of miles?
A. During the whole time?
Q. In respect to this last day in which you have no time whatever?
A. On the 24th we moved about thirty miles during the day, and during the night about eight or ten miles. I cannot tell the time, for I could not see my watch. That would be about forty miles, and the next day we moved anywhere from twenty-five to thirty-five miles.
Q. Grazing you say was scarce?
A. There was hardly any. A number of ponies had been round there and had clipped the grass almost like a lawn-mower.

The Court then, at 1:30 P.M. adjourned to meet at 11 o’clock A.M., Friday, January 17, 1879.



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