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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

FIFTH DAY

Chicago, Illinois Thursday, January 17, 1879 11 o’clock A.M.

The court met pursuant to adjournment.

Present

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

The proceedings, as far as they had been copied were then read and approved.

The examination of Lieutenant Wallace by Major Reno was then continued as follows:

Q. Did Major Reno lose any time in moving from the hill-top in the direction in which General Custer was afterwards found, after the packtrain came in?
A. No sir, I don’t think he did. The ammunition had to be distributed after the train came up, and it is my impression now that he moved on as soon as it could practicably be done.
Q. Bearing in mind the belt of timber from which you retired, the river you had to cross, and the hill you had to rise, was that point on the bluff that major Reno occupied as well suited for protection as any other he could have taken under those circumstances? I don’t ask you to swear to a geographical fact, but to give your opinion.
A. In my opinion it was.
Q. Since yesterday I have read this letter of Mr. Whittaker, and there is one point about which I wish to ask a question. What opinion have you, as a soldier, of the wisdom of separating the 7th Cavalry Regiment into battalions?

The Recorder objected to the question because it is shown that the separation was made by General Custer, and it is not for this court to give any opinion upon the conduct of General Custer, much less this witness.

Major Reno replied – We wish to call the attention of the court to the 3rd subdivision of Whittaker’s letter and ask if the court is to consider that in the shape it now is: if it is we think it ought to be met.

The Court was then cleared and closed and after mature deliberation was reopened, Major Reno and his counsel being present, and the decision of the court was announced by the Recorder that the Whittaker letter is only before the court as a part of the application of Major Reno, and the letter will only be considered in so far as the matter therein contained is covered by the order convening the court. The question will therefore be disallowed.

The Record then reexamined Lieutenant Wallace as follows:

Q. You have stated that it was about one mile from where Major Reno crossed the Little Big Horn in the advance that Lieutenant Cook gave General Custer’s order to Major Reno to charge the Indians.
A. I think not, sir.
Q. State the distance.
A. The way you ask the question, I understand that Lieutenant Cook gave the order after major Reno crossed the Little Big Horn.
Q. You stated it was about one mile from the river before Major Reno crossed it in his advance that Lieutenant Cook gave General Custer’s order to major Reno to charge the Indians. Fix as definitely as you can what time of day that was.
A. I said before, I looked at my watch about the time General Custer called Major Reno over to his side of the little stream. It was then about 2 o’clock, whether a little after or a little before I don’t know. Taking the distance we passed over after that, it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 minutes after two o’clock. The exact time I can’t give.
Q. Did you not the time when you looked at your watch?
A. Not at that time: I did not it afterwards.
Q. Are you sure the time of your watch was the true time of day, when you looked at it, or may it have been an hour or more slow or fast?
A. I am not sure about that. It may have been fast or it may have been slow. I never have claimed that it was the local time of the place.
Q. Refresh your memory and state how much time elapsed from the time Lieutenant Cook delivered that order to Major Reno till Major Reno had been joined by Captain Benteen’s command on the hill; and what, according to your calculation, was the time of day when those commands united there.
A. It must have been an hour and a half approximately.
Q. Then it would be about what hour in the afternoon?
A. Somewhere about 3 o’clock or after. That is simply my own estimate, without looking at my watch.
Q. I understand you to testify that the last you saw of General Custer’s column was when Lieutenant Cook delivered to Major Reno the order referred to: is that correct?
A. Yes sir.
Q. And that it was about 4 o’clock that day when Major Reno was joined by Captain Benteen on the hill?
A. Yes sir, about 4 or after 4.
Q. Now state to the court, from what you afterwards knew as to the route General Custer’s column had taken, and the nature of the ground passed over by General Custer’s column as afterwards ascertained by you, where General Custer’s column must have been in reference to the point “B” on the map, or in reference to the place where you found the dead horse near the river, at the time major Reno and Captain Benteen united their forces on the hill.
A. This trail from “B” up is simply an estimate. If that represents the line of their march he must have passed beyond where the first dead man was found. His fight must have been going on at that time if it was not after.
Q. You said yesterday you knew a certain man and another one you had heard of, and had those two men been killed in the bottom you would have known it. State how you would have known it.
A. The man I knew, McIllargy, belong to Company “I”, but had been on duty with Major Reno during the campaign, and naturally would have gone into the fight with him. He says he sent him back, and he must have done so, or he would not have been with his company.
Q. you have testified that the men in major Reno’s command had 100 rounds of ammunition each – 50 on their persons and 40 in the saddle pouches. Now from what you stated yesterday as to the probably number of rounds the men had expended on the skirmish line, state, on the basis of 115 men, with one-fourth as horse-holders, how many rounds were there in the entire command of Major Reno when he left the timber for the opposite side of the river.
A. There is no getting at a correct estimate of the quantity of ammunition each man had on the skirmish line: some fired more than others. One man would fire all the ammunition he had, and another wold reserve his ammunition and take careful shots. But say there 115 men, one fourth would be 28, that would leave 2800 rounds of ammunition those men had; but what the other had would be simply a wild estimate in which my opinion would be no better than anybody else’s.
Q. Do you mean you can’t tell anything approximately about that in regard to the other men?
A. It would simply be a guess. You go into an action with a lot of men, and one man will fire more than another, and unless you inspect their ammunition you can’t tell.
Q. Were there any complaints among the men on the skirmish line, or anything said about the ammunition giving out – I mean all they had?
A. No sir. I heard no complaints of that kind. I know that some of them had expended what they had in the belts.
Q. How near to the ford where Major Reno’s command first crossed, did Lieutenant Cook and Captain Keogh go with you?
A. I don’t know where they turned back; - I did not see them turn back. I saw them within half a mile of the ford.
Q. Were there any troops with them, indicating that General Custer was going to follow major Reno’s command?
A. No sir, Captain Keogh’s company was with General Custer and Lieutenant Cook was the Adjutant.
Q. What was the relative position of General Custer’s and Major Reno’s commands?
A. I don’t know: I did not see General Custer’s column at that time. It must have been to our rear, for if it had been to our right or left of front I would have seen it.
Q. Could it have been to your right and rear or to your left and rear?
A. It could not have been to our left and rear: it might have been to our right and rear as we commenced to cross the stream.
Q. State whether or not a command going into a battle could not be practically supported in the attack in some other way than by having a column immediately behind it.
A. Yes, I guess it could.
Q. At the time this order was given major Reno to charge the Indians, did you not know, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Captain Benteen’s column of three companies must be to the left and rear, and would probably be up and join in the fight?
A. I knew he was to the left and rear, but what his orders were or what he could do I could not tell. I did not expect much assistance from that direction.
Q. State whether the support spoken of by General Custer’s order may not have referred to Captain Benteen’s column.
A. That I don’t know. I simply imagined from what was said, that it was coming from General Custer. That was simply my own idea.
Q. Was the route taken by Major Reno at the time General Custer’s order was delivered, or immediately thereafter, the most direct and practicable one to the hostile Indian village?
A. I think it was the most practicable one, as it was the one travelled by the Indians – it was on their trail.
Q. How was it in regard to directness?
A. It was not a straight line, but I know you get the best road by following the Indian trails in that country.
Q. State whether you saw in the vicinity of the river, a trail leading to the right in regard to the one Major Reno’s command followed down to the ford.
A. I can’t say positively, but I have an idea that I did see one leading to the right – father over the hill and to the right – not in the direction of the village.
Q. Where was that?
A. That was back nearly at the point where Major Reno received his order.
Q. Had you passed that point you speak of when you last saw General Custer’s column?
A. We passed it soon after leaving his column, while his Adjutant and Captain Keogh were with us. The trail we followed was the most direct one, I think.
Q. State whether or not General Custer’s column was on your right and whether you saw it after passing that point.
A. I have sated before that I did not see his column after we started forward.
Q. In testifying as to the character of some of the men who went into that fight with major Reno, saying that many of them were recruits and poor horsemen, do you mean to convey the impression that the command was in any way inefficient or unreliable?
A. Not exactly that; but there were a few of them would have been better soldiers if they had received a little drill before going into the fight.
Q. How did that command fight the Indians, mounted or dismounted?
A. We fought them on foot till we started back.
Q. When you saw that cloud of dust you speak of, state whether it indicated a hostile force mounted, or the Indians driving their ponies.
A. That is something I can’t tell.
Q. Then explain what you meant in your testimony by saying that it appeared to be mounted men.
A. Simply because they were raising a dust. Dismounted men would not make it.
Q. Would ponies being driven make it?
A. Ponies would make it.
Q. With the exceptions as indicated in your testimony yesterday, state whether or not Lieutenant Maguire’s map represents with reasonable accuracy the principal and important features of the battlefield.
A. No, I don’t think it does. I think it is the best map I have seen, still I don’t think it is located right at all: I would not know it to be the same piece of country.
Q. What do you refer to; the topography, or the relative positions?
A. The relative positions are pretty good. I don’t think it represents anything else.
Q. Look at the map and state whether the points marked “D” and “E” are correctly indicated.
A. That is the best part of the map. That I think is about as correct as the topography of the country would admit.
Q. Was Major Reno’s command, before it quit its position in the timber, near enough to the Indians to use their revolvers with any good effect?
A. Before it quite the timber, no sir, unless it was a few isolated cases, and I did not see them.
Q. State how often you saw Major Reno in the timber and how often you saw him on the skirmish line.
A. He was there when the skirmish line was formed. Exactly how long he stayed there I can’t estimate. He was there a few minutes and went into the timber. I did not see him again till we were ready to start out; and then I did not see him, but heard his voice simply.
Q. State whether any men were wounded in crossing the bottom from the timber to the ford, in the march or retreat of Major Reno’s command to the hill.
A. I don’t know: if they were wounded so they fell of their horses, they would be killed. There were several wounded when got on top of the hill; where they received those wound I don’t know.
Q. State if anybody stopped on the crossing, or the command was halted or any part of it to assist the wounded men.
A. I tried to pick up one of my wounded men, but the Indians killed him before I could get assistance to him.
Q. Did you notice any other cases?
A. No sir.
Q. State whether any halt was made to determine when the men fell from the saddles – whether they were killed or wounded.
A. That was the only case where I saw a man fall from his horse.
Q. State whether or not any wounded men were brought in from the bottom to the point of crossing of the place on the hill where Major Reno’s command went.
A. When we got to the top of the hill, there were several wounded: how they got there or where they received their wounds I can’t testify.
Q. State if you know who was the first officer who crossed the river on Major Reno’s retreat to the hill.
A. That I don’t know.
Q. State whether or not there was any halt made at the river.
A. None that I know of. I was in the rear, and when I got across they were still moving up the hill.
Q. I believe you testified that 27 men were killed in crossing that bottom.
A. That is about the number: that includes one or two killed before we left the timber 0 that is, one I know and one I heard of.
Q. Do you know whether they were killed in the first instance, or that the bodies of that number were found?
A. The bodies of that number were found.
Q. At the time Major Reno and Captain Benteen united on the hill, how many wounded men were with Major Reno’s command?
A. About 7 I think.
Q. State if you know by whose order Captain Weir went down the stream from Major Reno’s position on the hill.
A. I don’t know: I was not near Major Reno when Captain Weir started and don’t know who gave the order.
Q. Describe the position Captain Weir occupied after going down there as to elevation, as far as you know.
A. It was a high point.
Q. You stated that the whole column moved down that way after the pack train came up.
A. Yes sir.
Q. How long was that after Captain Weir moved down?
A. That I don’t know.
Q. Did Captain Weir move before or after the pack train came up?
A. It is simply an impression that he went before.
Q. Do you know of your own knowledge that major Reno was down to that position occupied by Captain Weir’s command, or do you know of you own knowledge that he took any portion of his command there, or ordered any portion of it there?
A. When the general move was made, when we started from where we halted, Major Reno was at the head of the column when we moved out. I took position with my company near the rear of the column. Whether Major Reno continued at the head of the column. Whether Major Reno continued at the head of the column I don’t know: I did not see him come back.
Q. How long was that particular column you speak of?
A. There were three companies, marching in column of twos: probably in each company there were 20 files.
Q. Give the approximate length of the column.
A. 150 or 250 yards.
Q. Were you moving with the column?
A. I was in the column towards the rear.
Q. How far did you move?
A. Till the head of the column halted, which was probably three-fourths of a mile or a mile.
Q. How near were you to Captain Weir’s company?
A. Within 200 yards of it, I guess.
Q. Was Captain Weir coming back, halting or moving on?
A. At that time they were skirmishing in front.
Q. Did that column of Major Reno’s join in the fight or skirmish there?
A. We prepared to take part in it. My company was sent to a high point to the right: another company came up on my left and assignment was made. The command then occupied two almost parallel ridges with no way of defending the space between them.
Q. The command was separated there?
A. Not exactly: it was in two lines with the end next to the Indians open; and the command was given to fall back to a better position. Where it came from I don’t know.
Q. What was the interval between you and the company on your left?
A. Ten or 15 yards.
Q. It was a continuous line?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Did any part of the command actually engage the enemy?
A. I know there was heavy firing on Captain Weir’s company, and I know Captain Godfrey’s company acted asa rear guard when the command fell back and they got a heavy fire. There was no firing on the point I occupied at that time.
Q. Was there any other firing there?
A. I don’t remember any.
Q. What were the casualties there?
A. The only one I heard of was a man wounded and left, of Captain Weir’s company.
Q. You testified that the village, in moving away, was two and a half or three miles long and half a mile wide – what that the entire village?
A. Yes sir.
Q. State what it included.
A. Everything – warriors, squaws, ponies and everything they had. That is simply an estimate. Several officers were together and we tried to make an estimate of it.
Q. Had you ever before seen a large Indian village moving off over the plain or bottom?
A. No sir, not in that shape. I had seen them straggling along, but never so large a body of Indians as that.
Q. Had you ever seen as many as 2000 or 6000 Indians moving in a regular body to a regular destination?
A. No sir.
Q. Then in estimating the number of Indians you saw there on what do you base your estimate?
A. Principally on information received from the Indians when I say 9000 warriors.
Q. At the usual proportion of women and children to warriors, what would have been the population of that village?
A. That is what I don’t know. The population of the village I can only get at by the stories the Indians tell – their estimate.
Q. Do you know anything about the proportion of women and children to warriors in a band of Indians?
A. No sir. I have heard several stories, and they state they had 1800 lodges and counted from 5 to 7 warriors to a lodge, and there were several wickyups in which visiting bucks were living.
Q. You testified that the firing you heard was to your left?
A. Yes sir.
Q. From what direction did that sound come with reference to where you found General Custer’s body?
A. It was nearer and on the opposite side of the stream from where his body was found. I heard not over a dozen shots, and they were not in quick succession.
Q. With reference to the position of Major Reno’s command on the hill and the point “B” on the map, what was the direction of the sound?
A. As I stood facing in about the direction General Custer’s body was found, the sound was to my left.
Q. Please state again the effective force that was with General Custer, Major Reno, Captain Benteen and Captain McDougall at the time the command was divided into battalions on the 25th day of June, 1876, and state how you know those facts.
A. I think General Custer had about 225: at least there were about that many reported killed or missing in his fight. Major Reno had somewhere from 110 to 115, including Indians scouts. Captain Benteen had three companies, and had a force I think a little larger than Major Reno’s, for I think his companies were slightly larger. Captain McDougall had 40 or 45 men in his company, and with the pack train ten men from each of the other eleven companies.
Q. Did that include the citizen packers with Captain McDougall?
A. I know there were a few citizen packers: I don’t know the number. I know each company had to do its own packing with a few exceptions.

Questions by the Court

Q. I would like to find out the exact distance from where major Reno’s command separated from that of General Custer to where General Custer’s body was found, or the first horse was killed, or the first man was found.
A. There (that?) is a part of that country I was never over, so I would have to guess at the distance. I would say it was in the vicinity of six miles.
Q. How much of that distance was parallel to the route travelled by Major Reno, or over the same route?
A. If he separated from, or left the trail at the point I think he did, he travelled over about half a mile of our trail, and then diverged to the right.
Q. At what angle?
A. Almost at a right angle: then owing to the nature of the country the two trails, after separating some distance, would rather ten towards the same point several miles down the river.
Q. Do you know the rate at which his column marched, or probably marched?
A. No sir: I simply know how it was moving the last time I saw it.
Q. Was it trotting the last time you saw it?
A. No sir. General Custer had a very fast walking horse, and many of the men were trotting their horses, while he was walking.

Questions by Major Reno

Q. Questions have been asked you in reference to the height of the hill on which Captain Weir’s company was, in comparison with the height of the hill on which Major Reno took position: which was the most advantageous in reference to water?
A. The one on which we made the stand. It was nearer the water. The country was broken: there were ravines coming to the water’s edge, and it was through these ravines the men passed out for water.
Q. For the purposes of defense which was the most advantageous?
A. The point we had.
Q. Is not the firing of pistols by a cavalryman a matter of discretion?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Is it not, under such conditions as the men were placed in that timber?
A. Yes sir.
Q. If the 28 horse-holders had not fired any of their ammunition, that would leave 28 men fully supplied with ammunition?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Do you know whether some of the men had not already exhausted the cartridges about their persons, and had to go to their saddle-bags for more?
A. Not from personal knowledge. I understand so.
Q. Is that your belief?
A. I heard a company commander say he took half his men back to get ammunition.
Q. What company commander was it?
A. Captain Moylan and Lieutenant Varnum.

The witness then retired.

F. F. Girard, a citizen, a witness called by the Recorder, and 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, occupation, and residence.
A. My name is F. F. Girard, and I am an interpreter at Fort Abe Lincoln.
Q. State if you were in any way connected with the government service on the 25th and 26th days of June, 1876 – with General Custer.
Q. What expedition?
A. General Custer’s expedition.
Q. Where was this; on what stream on the 25th and 26th of June?
A. One the Rosebud and on the Little Big Horn.
Q. With what particular command were you – with what regiment?
A. The 7th Cavalry, with the Indian scouts.
Q. State if Major Reno was serving with that command at that time?
A. He was.
Q. Under whose immediate orders were you serving on the morning of the 25th of June, 1876?
A. General Custer’s.
Q. State whether or not you afterward on that day were with anybody of troops, under the command of any other officer; if so, who?
A. I was under Major Reno part of the time that day.
Q. Was that before or after you were with General Custer?
A. I was with General Custer in the forenoon, until he ordered the scouts to Major Reno; and then I joined Major Reno.
Q. What enemy was the 7th Cavalry operating against on the 25th of June, 1876?
A. The Sioux Indians, supposed to be Sitting Bull.
Q. Where; on what stream?
A. On the Little Big Horn River.
Q. Now state what disposition or separation, if any, was made of the command that morning; and by whose orders and under whose command were the different columns placed, if there were any different columns. Go back to the earliest part of the morning if you know anything in regard to that.
A. I don’t know of any disposition being made of the troops early in the morning I was not there. I was ahead of the command until about 11 o’clock. I was present when Major Reno’s command was ordered off. I suppose the division had taken place in the morning.
Q. What were the indications in regard to the closeness or nearness of hostile Indians at the time Major Reno was ordered off?
A. How nigh the Indians were to us?
Q. No. What were the appearances – what had you seen that morning to indicate that there were Indians in your neighborhood?
A. A few minuted before major Reno received his orders, I rode up a little knoll near where there was a lodge with some dead Indians in it; and from this knoll I could see the town, the Indian tepees, and ponies. I turned my horse sideways, and took off my hat and waved it, and then I hallooed to General Custer: “here are your Indians, running like devils!” And I rode down from that knoll and joined General Custer, and he was still marching on.
Q. Describe this knoll or the place you rode up to General Custer and communicated that to him. State about where it was, so that the court can understand its position with reference to the river. How far was it from the Little Big Horn River?
A. It was where there some lodges standing, with some dead Indians in them. It was to the right of it, and probably forty or fifty yards from it. I rode up the right of this lodge where the dead Indians were. It was not on the Little Big Horn, but on one of the tributaries that empties into the Little Big Horn.
Q. That was how far from the Little Big Horn, say from the point where this tributary empties into the Little Big Horn, if you could judge?
A. I don’t know where it empties into the Little Big Horn.
Q. State about how far it was from the nearest point on the Little Big Horn?
A. From that point to where we crossed it, I should say it was a mile, or probably a mile and a quarter.
Q. Describe the place where you have stated that Major Reno’s column was ordered off.
A. I suppose it was twenty-five or thirty yards away from that lodge. That is my remembrance now. It might have been more. I know it was but a very short time after I left the lodge that he received these orders.
Q. Now state what you know in regard to any marches, or halts of the command that occurred previous to this time, on that day, commencing early in the morning.
A. How early in the morning?
Q. You can commence back as far as you like – 1 o’clock or midnight of the night immediately preceding that morning.
A. About 11 o’clock on the evening of the 24th, General Custer sent after me to report to his camp, and I reported; and he gave me my order to take an Indian by the name of Half-Yellow Face, and an Indian by the name of Bloody Knife, and to ride at the head of the column with him. At half-past 11 or so we pulled out, and go t to the head of the column and waited until General Custer came up; and then he reported his orders to me to be sure to have the Indians follow the left-hand trail, no matter how small it might be – he didn’t want any of the camps of the Sioux to escape him. He wanted to get them all together and drive them down to the Yellowstone. I told the Indians what the orders were, and Bloody Knife remarked:

“He needn’t be so particular about the small camps; we’ll get enough when we strike the big camps,” – and the Indians were halted, and I sat there with the General while the Indians were finding the trail. The conversation came up about eh number of Indians we would find the next day, between the General and myself, and he asked me what number of Indians I thought we would have to fight. And I told I told him I thought it wouldn’t be less than twenty-five hundred.

Q. You need not state what was said by you at that time. Describe the marches and halts up to that time.
A. While we were there, General Custer asked those two Indians if he could cross the divide before daylight, and they replied “no.” And he asked them if he could cross after daylight without being discovered by the Indians in the bottom, and they said “no.” And he then asked them where there was any timber where they could be concealed during the day where the Indians could not discover them.
Q. You need not repeat the conversation of General Custer with the Indians. Describe how far the command had marched from the time you say you started off about midnight – how far off the command had marched up to the time Major Reno’s column had pulled off, or been sent or ordered off.
A. I should say on the night march we made about twelve miles. In the morning from where the orders were to make coffee, to the divide, it was about five more; and from the divide down to the Little Big Horn, where we crossed it, I should say twelve or thirteen miles.
Q. Did you hear any conversation between Major Reno and General Custer, or any orders that were given by General Custer, or through his adjutant, to Major Reno, on the 25th of June?
A. I heard General Custer giving orders to Major Reno.
Q. State what the orders were.
A. The General hallooed over to major Reno, and beckoned to him with his finger, and the Major rode over, and he told Major Reno” “You will take your battalion and try and overtake and bring them to battle, and I will support you.” And as the Major was going off he said: “And take the scouts along with you.” He gave him orders to take the scouts along, and that is how I heard it.
Q. Then where did you go?
A. I joined Major Reno.
Q. Were you ordered to go?
A. No, sir: I simply heard to the order given, and I knew where my duty was – with the scouts.
Q. State how far this occurred from the place where you crossed the Little Big Horn River.
A. You are familiar with estimating distances, in traveling through that country, or similar country?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Then to the best of your judgment you believe it to be how far?
A. I should say a mile from the Little Big Horn to where the orders were given to Major Reno. I didn’t measure any of those distances, so I have to guess at it.
Q. You are familiar with estimating distances, in traveling through that country, or similar country?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Then to the best of you judgment you believe it to be how far?
A. I should say about a mile.
Q. How far was General Custer’s column at this time from Major Reno’s column? How far were to two columns apart, or were they together?
A. I should say they were almost together. Major Reno and his battalion were to the left of the General.
Q. State how many companies were in Major Reno’s battalion, if you know.
A. I could not say positively.
Q. How many men?
A. I estimate it about one hundred.
Q. You stated that they were very near together, and that Major Reno’s column was on the left of General’s. What time as that – I mean (that?) particular event? Was that at the time the order was given that you refer to?
A. Yes, sir. I should judge it was about 12 o’clock.
Q. State what directions the columns took after that, so far as you saw and know about the two, before Major Reno crossed the river with his command.
A. My impression is that we were traveling due north from where we separated from General Custer’s command, following an old Indian trail; and we came to a little knoll, and the road went around it; and as we went around this little knoll, and the road went around, and as we went around this little knoll we lost sight of General Custer’s command. I would say that was about a mile from where we separated.
Q. How far from the river?
A. This knoll was right on the edge of the rivers’ bank.
Q. State whether or not you saw anyone before crossing the river, of General Custer’s column, after that; and state how it occurred.
A. Yes, sir: I saw Colonel Cook and spoke to him, when we go to this knoll. The scouts were to my left, and called my attention to the fact that all the Indians were coming up the valley. I called Major Reno’s attention to the fact that the Indians were all coming up the valley. I halted there a little time; I thought it was of importance enough that General Custer should know it, and I rode back toward Custer’s command. At this knoll I met Colonel Cook, and he asked me where I was going. I told him I had come back to report to him that the Indians were coming up the valley to meet us, and he says: “All right; I’ll go back and report.” And he wheeled around and went toward Major Reno’s command. [An obvious error in transcription which should read “General Custer’s command”. W. A. G.]
Q. At this point where you met Colonel Cook, where was General Cook, where was General Custer’s column then? Could you see it?
A. No, sir. This knoll – the trail went in very close behind the knoll, and he may have been only forty of fifty yards from where I met Colonel Cook. If he had been further up I could have seen him, but, if he was right behind it, I could not see him.
Q. Now begin at that lace where you joined Major Reno’s column and describe fully and in detail all that occurred, to your knowledge, in reference to Major Reno’s command on the 25th day of June, 1876; stating what stream or streams if any, were crossed; what advance, if any was made; what engagement, if any ensued; giving time, distance, an description of the ground that was passed over or occupied; and all the circumstances within your knowledge bearing upon this matter, or having any reference to the conduct of Major Reno or the movements and operation of the troops under his command. State this in narrative form, in your own words, and confine yourself to the facts that came within your own knowledge.
A. After General Custer gave the order to major Reno, I called out to the scouts: “We are ordered to go with this party and join them.” I joined them, and rode down on a pretty fast gait – sometimes on a trot and sometimes on a lope – and came to the creek which is skirted by the knoll; and I halted there some little time, and when I spoke to Major Reno about the Indians coming up above, he halted a second or two, and gave the order “Forward.” I met Colonel Cook, asa I have stated, and as I came back, and Indian scout was waiting there for me, and I could see Major Reno’s command going down to where they afterward threw out the skirmish line. (Referring to the map). From this ford, marked “A”, the march was not made in a direct line. It was made around skirting the edge of the timber, and this point where the skirmish line was drawn, was approached. I halted forty-five or fifty yards back from the edge of the timber, and there were Charlie Reynolds, Dr. Porter, George Hunbein (Herendeen), and Bloody Knife, and myself, and Charlie Reynolds asked me if I had any whisky. He said he had never felt so in all the days of my life, and he felt depressed and discouraged, and he thought it would be well to have something to stimulate him; and I have him some, and I offered it to the balance, and they refused it. I took a little myself, and told him not to take too much; that he needed a very cool head; that we had plenty of business on our hands for that day. We then dismounted; and just as we dismounted here, this skirmish line was being drawn up. While the skirmish line was being drawn up, the Indians were coming up. They were distant, as well as I could judge from where I stood, about one thousand yards from the left flank of the skirmish line, and in front; not directly in a line with it. We fired a few shots at the first Indians that came up. The firing started with some of our scouts that had left the command gone into a little valley to capture some ponies; and more Indians were coming up here, and riding around the command. Charlie Reynolds and myself fired a few shots there. It was long range. We put our horses in the timber, and we started up, and when we got to the brow of the hill a soldier hallooed: “Boys, I’ve got it; I’m hit.” I turned around and told him to ride down to the timber; that the doctor was there and he would attend to him. Charlie Reynolds and I turned into the timber and he tied his horse, and I tied mine within eight or ten feet of the foot of the hill; and then the left flank of the skirmish line on the brow of the hill had been swung around, to all appearances, and made the right flank. I didn’t see the movement made, but that was what I supposed had been done. I was at the extreme right, Mr. Reynolds was next, Lieutenant Varnum next. We stayed there four or five minuted and fired, probably seven shots, and Mr. Reynolds and myself were together and someone gave the order: “Men! To your horses! The Indians are in our rear.”
Q. Indians in your rear – where? Over the bottom over which you had come?
A. No, sir. This timber was here, and we were facing the brow of the hill. Charlie Reynolds looked at me and I said – “What damn-fool move is this?” Says he – “I don’t know. We will have to go. We will have to get out of here.” Reynolds went after his horse, and I looked for mine, but the Indians that had been fighting the troops here had got onto the brow of the hill, and were firing onto the troops, and the Indians on this side-
Q. The Indians on the right side of the river, do you mean?

Major Reno – The stream runs east and west, in front of our position. I determined it with a compass.

Mr. Girard – I think this map is wrong. My remembrance of the lay of the country and the course of the stream, and where the skirmish line was, makes me think this map is wrong.

Q. Taking it with reference to the positions as represented on the map, go on and make your statement.
A. The Indians that were firing at me at that time were north of where we struck the woods. Reynolds had mounted and come up to where I was, leading my horse, and I told him he had better dismount, as he would be more apt to be hit on his horse, as the Indians were firing at him, than if he was leading. He dismounted – at this point, fifty or sixty yards east of where this skirmish line was drawn up. At the foot of the hill Mr. Reynolds mounted and I led my horse, and I saw him whip up and start his horse on a run up the hill, and I hurried up and got up on the hill, and could see nothing but a few Indians – no men or troops. As I saw Mr. Reynolds just then, I saw several Indians cut him off and shoot him down, and he fell. He appeared to me to have his left caught under his horse, and he lost his gun, and in the meantime several Indians had passed between me and where Reynolds was, and I knew I was discovered, and I turned my horse down the hill and hunted a place where I could defend myself. When Mr. Reynolds and myself left the brow of the hill when the order was given: “Men! To your horses, the Indians are in our rear,” the troops were mounted and going very fast – pell-mell, as I might say, and I saw some officer going back, and I said: “What are you going to do?” Says he: “Charge the Indians.” Says I: “Mr. Reynolds, we don’t’ understand the bugle calls. We’ll go out slow, and they will undoubtedly come back to this point of timber.” That was the time that the skirmish line was drawn in and the men mounted and started on the retreat to the hill under Major Reno.
Q. Was this firing of the Indians from the right or left bank of the stream that you speak of where Reynolds was shot?
A. From the left bank.
Q. State what you saw on the right bank of the stream, if anything?
A. I could not see from where I was. It was all timber.
Q. State whether or not any fire came into the timber from that direction, or from any direction, and what?
A. Yes, sir; after the troops had withdrawn, the Indians set fire to the timber and it was burning up close to where we were sitting. The smoke was very dense.
Q. Now go back from there, to the time that you saw Lieutenant Cook near the knoll that you have spoken of, and describe the trail or trails that you saw there, if any, or about that place?
A. The trail, before we turned around this knoll, going to the left of the ford 0 there was another trail going to the right – quite a large one.
Q. What did it appear to be?
A. A lodge trail.
Q. Are you familiar with Indian trails?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. State what opportunities you have had of judging about those matters?
A. I have been a resident in the Indian country for thirty-one years and I think I ought to know an Indian trail when I see it.
Q. Then you know that was a large Indian trail?
A. Yes, sir; a lodge trail.
Q. State whether or not that was the trail that major Reno’s command took – that lodge trail you speak of, leading to the right?
A. No, sir; we took the left hand trail coming around the knoll.
Q. Which was the larger of the two trails?
A. I think the right hand trail. That is an impression, simply. I could not say now, it is so long ago.
Q. No, from the time you saw Lieutenant Cook at that knoll, state how long it was before you saw Major Reno’s column across the river, and where it was at that time?
A. I should say not over three minutes. From the ford, I came back on a lope, and as soon as I met Colonel Cook, and told him what my business was, I rode back. I don’t think it was over seventy-five or eighty yards from the ford to where I met him.
Q. Where was Major Reno’s command? How far from the ford when you got back to the ford?
A. I should think he was a quarter of a mile from the ford, as I halted there some time the Indians. The Indians were there waiting for me.
Q. From the time that Major Reno’s column had crossed the river state, if you know, how long it was until his command halted and deployed as skirmishers near the timber?
A. Not over ten minutes.
Q. Now describe the advance of Major Reno’s command from the place where he crossed the stream to where his men deployed, and describe as near as you can the character of the ground that was passed over as well as the course of the stream, the nature of the ground on the right of the line of his advance.
A. From this ford the march was not made in a direct line to these points. It was made in a column skirting the edge of the timber, making a circuit coming around the edge of the timber. The edge of the timber was quite a bend, and the skirmish-line was drawn up out from the outward edge of the bend of the timber.
Q. State whether there was any enemy opposing the advance of Major Reno’s column from the river to the place where this skirmish-line was formed; if so, what enemy, in what numbers, and where?
A. From where this skirmish-line was drawn, there were no Indians up to the point marked “C”. This skirmish-line was drawn up before the first Indian got up to it. They were about one thousand yards from it when the first skirmisher was thrown out. I was in the rear of it.
Q. How far in the rear were you when the skirmish [line] was thrown out of deployed?
A. Seventy-five yards, probably.
Q. State what view in front you had in your own front of that of the skirmish-line?
A. From where we were we couldn’t see down the valley; we could see at the foot of the hill about the number of Indians that were coming up. The timber extended out and hid our view.
Q. How far down the valley could you see in front of the skirmish-line?
A. Twelve hundred or fifteen hundred yards. There is a bend of the river here that prevented us from seeing any Indians any farther than that?
Q. You refer to the first shot that was fired. State if you know if that shot was fired by major Reno’s command or the enemy, and how you know it.
A. I don’t know who fired the first shot.
Q. State where that first shot was fired?
A. That I could not say either.
Q. Where was Major Reno’s command when you heard the first shots; what position was it in?
A. They were drawing up the skirmish line at the time. The Indians were firing at our scouts and our scouts were firing at some Indians, but I didn’t pay any attention to them.

Then at 2 o’clock P.M. the Court then adjourned to meet at 11 o’clock A. M. tomorrow, Saturday, January 18, 1879.



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