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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

SEVENTH DAY

Chicago, Illinois

Monday, January 20, 1879

11 o’clock A. M.

The Court met pursuant to adjournment.

Present

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

The proceedings of the Court up to date were read and approved.

During the reading of the testimony of the witness Girard he made the following corrections: On page 133 he desired to change the numbers of Indians he thought would be encountered at from 1500 to 2000, instead of 2500 as there recorded. On page 139 – as to the time Major Reno’s command left the woods changed 10 minutes past 1 to 10 minutes past 2 o’clock.

Also corrected the time General Custer gave Major Reno his orders to about 1 o’clock instead of about 12 o’clock.

Major Reno then asked the court to empower the Recorder to subpoena Captain J. Scott Payne, 5th Cavalry and Sergeant DeLacy, Company “I”, 7th Cavalry, as witnesses in his behalf, stating that Captain Payne had made a careful examination and map of this whole country, and Sergeant DeLacy was present on the 25th and 26th days of June, 1876.

The court indicated that it would act upon this application during the session today.

The examination of the witness Girard was then continued by the Recorder as follows:

Q. State what order or instructions, if any, were given by General Custer at early dawn on the morning of the 25th of June in regard to halting or moving the command on that morning, and where did General Custer go after giving such order?
A. The command was halted and orders were given to make coffee with small fires, the first to be put out when the coffee was made; the horses to remain saddled, and we would go into camp after day-light. I had orders to communicate the same to the scouts. After coffee was made I laid down by the side of my horse. I don’t know how long I slept, but General Custer woke me up, and told me to take the two scouts that had come in from Lieutenant Varnum, and accompany him to where the scouts came from, up on the mountains. As I was getting ready, and had my back turned to General Custer, either Lieutenant Cook or Tom Custer came up and asked him if the command should follow. He said, “No, you will remain here until I return.” We then mounted and rode on to the foot of the mountain – as far as we could go with our horses, and then dismounted and walked to the top of the mountain and there found Lieutenant Varnum, Boyer (Bouyer) and Bloody-Knife who had accompanied us.
Q. State when General Custer left the command to go upon that divide, what senior officer remained with the troops.
A. I suppose the next senior officer of the command would be Major Reno.
Q. Did you return with General Custer from that place, and if so, were the troops found where General Custer ordered them to remain?
A. I returned with General Custer to within 40 or 50 yards of the command. The command had then moved out and come about three miles toward us from where we had left them.
Q. State any facts or circumstances showing how far and in what direction the troops had changed position, and whether or not that change had been made by General Custer’s orders.
A. I was with General Custer during the whole time, from the time he left until he returned, and I am satisfied no orders were sent back to move the command.
Q. State if you know who ordered the troops to move on during his absence.
A. That I can’t say.
Q. Commence at that point on the map marked “C” representing the right of Major Reno’s skirmish line, and give a description from that point as near as you can, of the river to opposite the point “B” on the left bank: not only what you saw at the time, but what you saw after, in regard to the timber: whether the timber was continuous or in spots: whether in bends with openings between, and how it was, giving as careful description as you can of it.
A. My recollection now is that but a short distance after making that turn at the perpendicular bank, the timber commences again, but I don’t know how wide it is; but there was timber scattered all along between those two points, with openings at intervals.
Q. What was the width of the timber below the point “B”?
A. There were heavy bodies of timber in there and a good deal of down timber – I judge it was from half to three-quarters of a mile wide, winding out and in: at some places more dense than at others, with openings at places. I was in there hunting lodge poles to make litters to carry off the wounded – below “B” on the left bank of the river.
Q. Describe in the same manner, as far as you noticed it at the time or afterwards, the timbered bottom on the right bank of the river from opposite the point where Major Reno’s skirmish line rested; whether dense or open; and whether the timber extended to the bank and all about it.
A. From the point “C” to the foot-hills on the right bank of the river, it was quite open with a little scattering timber. Below that the timber was quite heavy, with openings similar to those on the left bank.
Q. How far did you notice it?
A. Not far. And “B” the river runs in close to the foot-hills, and below that it follows the bend. There is no timber on that side very near to the ford where the horse was found standing.
Q. How near were the bluffs on the right bank of the river to the position occupied by Major Reno on the left bank where he had the skirmish line deployed?
A. Fully three-quarters of a mile away.
Q. Following the bluffs down did they come nearer than that or did they tend farther away?
A. They tended farther away.
Q. State in what condition were the horses of Major Reno’s command at the time he engaged the Indians in the woods on the left bank of the river, as compared with the condition of your own horse, and state why you know it.
A. I did not notice that the horses were in any way fatigued. They seemed to be riding on the bit: mine was. He was comparatively fresh, and I would not have hesitated to have ridden him 40 or 50 miles the next day. He was my own horse and I had taken good care of him, as far as grazing was concerned I had no grain for my horse.
Q. How was it about the use of your horse as compared with the balance of the horses of the command?
A. I think I did more riding than the average of the command.
Q. Did you have a change of horses?
A. No sir. I rode the same horse all the time.

Questions by Major Reno

Q. You do not agree precisely with the map Lieutenant Maguire submits and I want to get your understanding of the position. Locate the place that you and Reynolds stopped for a drink of whisky.
A. I would make this skirmish line a little different. I think the line extended south of west.

The witness then indicated on the map with a pencil by the figure “1” the point asked for.

Q. Who was with you?
A. Dr. Porter, Reynolds, Herndine (Herendeen), and Bloody-Knife.
Q. Then you have no idea, from this map, where you first saw the Indians the time you communicated that fact to General Custer?
A. No sir, not by the map.
Q. In what direction was it from “A” where Major Reno crossed?
A. On a continuation of the line from “C” to “A” back from “A”, and it might be a little to the left. That was the general direction.
Q. After you leave “A”, what is the character of the ground up to the point where Major Reno took position on the night of the 25th?
A. For a short distance it appeared to be level and then broken and rugged.
Q. Did you pass from the point where Major Reno was on the night of the 25th to the point “A” at any time?
A. One the night of the 25th about 10 o’clock, I came from above “A” and passed between that and (where?) the lodges stood with the dead Indians in, to where I joined Major Reno’s command.
Q. At what distance was your route from the river at that time?
A. I judge that from “A” I must have passed to the right of the knoll I described, about 75 yards, and continued on a trail that was there.
Q. What kind of a trail was it?
A. It was night and I could not tell. I supposed it was an old lodge trail.
Q. What do you estimate the distance to be from “A” to the point, where Major Reno was on the night of the 25th?
A. A mile or a mile and a quarter.
Q. Then what do you fix as the distance between “A” and “E” by the best practicable route on the right bank of the river?
A. Between 4 and 5 miles would be my estimate of the distance.
Q. What is the distance between the point where Major Reno was on the night of the 25th and the point “E”?
A. I should think it was near 4 miles.
Q. The point where you saw Adjutant Cook the last time, where was that with respect to where Major Reno was on the night of the 25th?
A. I did not see Lieutenant Cook after coming back near the crossing at “A”.
Q. Where did you last see the column of General Custer, that you have fixed for reasons of your own to have been his column?
A. The column I saw and claim was General Custer’s command was about at the point “D” in the word “command.”
Q. Where was the last point you saw it?
A. It was in that vicinity.
Q. You did not see it about half way between the point where Major Reno took position and the point “E”?
A. I did not. I have not said I did.
Q. What was the character of the place from which you first saw the Indians and from which you brought back the news to General Custer that they were there?
A. It was a little valley as we came around the knoll on the right bank of the Little Big Horn, on the left bank. There was a knoll we had to go around to go across the ford.
Q. Is that the place you speak of riding on a point of land, seeing the Indians, waving your hat to General Custer and calling out they were running like devils?
A. No sir.
Q. Where was that?
A. It was very close to the lodge where the dead Indians were.
Q. What was the character of that land?
A. To the right it was a broken country. It was a small hill 20 or 25 feet higher than where the lodge was standing, and a short distance from it.
Q. From that point where did you see the Indians – on which side of the river?
A. There was where I first saw the Indians to say I knew they were Indians. In the morning I had seen them from the mountain-top where Lieutenant Varnum was. That is, I saw a large black mass moving, which I supposed to be Indians and ponies.
Q. Where were the Indians at the time you saw them from that little hill?
A. They were down in the bottom of the Little Big Horn.
Q. How far down the valley were they, and on which side of the river?
A. I should say over three miles from where we were, and I judged them to be on the left bank of the river.
Q. You were then about a mile and a half away from the ford, were you?
A. I said about a mile from that knoll to the ford.
Q. I understood you to say the knoll at the edge of the river was about a mile from where you saw the Indians, and made the announcement to General Custer. Am I right?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Then from the ford “A”, how far down the valley were the Indians when you caught sight of them?
A. I should say two or two and a half miles from us.
Q. They were on the side of the river to which Major Reno afterwards crossed?
A. Yes sir.
Q. You came down and communicated that fact to General Custer did you?
A. I did not come down, I returned to Lieutenant Cook.
Q. What did Lieutenant Cook do?
A. As soon as I communicated it to him he said, “All right Girard, I will go and report, you go on”, and he wheeled his horse and went back, and I joined Major Reno’s command.
Q. We don’t understand each other. I am talking about the point of land where you saw the Indians and said to General Custer “here are the Indians and they are running like devils” – you said that did you?
A. I wheeled my horse sideways and waved my hat to attract attention and hallooed: “here are your Indians, running like devils.” I rode down, and I think General Custer and others went up there to see them.
Q. Are you sure of that?
A. I am not: I think so.
Q. Where was Major Reno at that time?
A. I can’t say positively: I saw several officers around General Custer. My impression is he was close there.
Q. With what officers?
A. I don’t remember: I remember seeing General Custer.
Q. Did you see Lieutenant Hodgson?
A. I could not place any of them.
Q. Did you see Lieutenant Wallace there?
A. I did not notice any particular one: he might have been there.
Q. Major Reno was with the officers?
A. Yes sir.
Q. In what position towards General Custer?
A. I could not give their relative position.
Q. You don’t know whether General Custer was on the right or left?
A. No, but my impression is that General Custer was to the right of Major Reno.
Q. You were about a mile from the knoll at the river’s edge when you gave that information: what next took place?
A. Then I rode to the command. We went but a short distance before General Custer called Major Reno, who was then to the left. He beckoned to him with his finger and Major Reno rode over. That being my first trip with troops, I was very anxious to know what was going on, and hear the orders.
Q. What were the orders?
A. “Major Reno; you will take your battalion and try to overtake the Indians and bring them to battle and I will support you.” And as Major Reno was moving off and had got 6 or 8 or 10 feet General Custer said “and take the scouts with you.”
Q. Did Major Reno have any officer with whom he was riding; go with him to General Custer to receive that order?
A. That I did not notice: I was watching General Custer.
Q. Did Major Reno come alone or with some officer?
A. I can’t say: I was not noticing any other party. I was noticing General Custer particularly.
Q. Did Adjutant Cook deliver the order from General Custer to Major Reno, or did General Custer give it in person?
A. The order I heard given was direct from General Custer to Major Reno. I do not pretend to say Lieutenant Cook did not communicate the order first.
Q. Then Lieutenant Wallace, when he says the only order was received through the adjutant, was not correct in his statement?
A. I can’t help what Lieutenant Wallace says.
Q. He is not correct, according to your judgment?
A. I have no judgment to give of that: this is simply my own testimony.
Q. What did Major Reno do then after he received that order?
A. He started; and as I had heard the order, it was not necessary for me to receive it from General Custer or anyone else. I communicated it to the scouts that we were to follow that party, and fell in. We got to the ford about the same time.
Q. In advance or at the same time?
A. A little to the left I think.
Q. A little behind or before him?
A. At one time I was within 8 or 10 feet of Major Reno.
Q. At what time was that?
A. In going down the valley, between where he received that order and the ford; and I noticed there were several scouts to my right and some to my left. I am not positive whether there were any between Major Reno and myself or not. There may have been one or two.
Q. Where were you when you reached the edge of the river, in reference to Major Reno?
A. There I think I was a little in advance and to the left, he going to the right had to make a larger circuit around that knoll than I had.
Q. He was at some distance from you when you reached the river was he not?
A. I should say he was 12 or 15 feet from me.
Q. What was he doing?
A. Coming to the ford.
Q. Rapidly or not?
A. I think he was coming at a fast trot.
Q. Was he in advance of the column or not?
A. I think he was.
Q. Was he alone or not?
A. I think he was not alone: there were plenty following right around him.
Q. Were there any officers with him?
A. I did not notice.
Q. You noticed nobody but him?
A. He was the commanding officer and I was watching him.
Q. Before you passed around the knoll you passed a heavy Indian trail?
A. Yes sir, there was a trail that turned off to the right.
Q. You passed that before you reached the knoll?
A. Yes sir.
Q. On passing that trail you were in full sight of General Custer?
A. I did not look back, but I should say it was.
Q. What did Major Reno o when he got to the river?
A. I called his attention to the Indians that were in the bottom. He looked at me, looked at the valley, and gave the order “Forward”.
Q. What language did you use to him at the river’s edge?
A. I addressed him as Major Reno.
Q. What else?
A. I called his attention to the Indians coming up the valley to meet us saying, “Major Reno, the Indians are coming up the valley to meet us”.
Q. Who was with him at that time?
A. I did not notice.
Q. Was he stopping there on that side of the river at that time, or was he moving?
A. he was just coming up to the river at the time; he was in motion, I believe. I had halted, I think; I am not positive.
Q. How far were you from the river at that time?
A. I judge 15 or 20 feet.
Q. You had stopped and Major Reno was still riding?
A. I did not say positively I had stopped: I had halted, I think, when I spoke to hm.
Q. You did reach the edge of the river at that point, 15 or 20 feet in advance of Major Reno?
A. About the same time I should say.
Q. You halted and he was still riding when you made that remark.
A. I did not say so. You make me say things I have not said.
Q. Tell just what Major Reno was doing when you halted there: was he riding or not?
A. He was moving. His horse was going and mine was going. I checked my horse, and may have halted when I spoke to Major Reno and called his attention to the Indians.
Q. Did Major Reno halt or not when you told him that?
A. I think he checked his horse.
Q. Major Reno was then in advance of the command?
A. I think he was ahead of it.
Q. How far was he ahead of the command?
A. I guess they were all near together.
Q. Did the others check up when Major Reno halted?
A. There seemed to be a momentary halt.
Q. Was that because Major Reno checked his horse?
A. I don’t know.
Q. What did you then do?
A. I stood there and saw part of the command cross, and then rode back as I have stated, to notify General Custer.
Q. Had Major Reno told you to take that knowledge back?
A. No sir; I thought it of sufficient importance for General Custer to know it without orders.
Q. Where were the Indians with respect to Major Reno’s command when you started back?
A. They were coming up the valley.
Q. How close and in what numbers?
A. I judge about two miles and a half away, and in very large numbers.
Q. So large as to excite your apprehensions of Major Reno’s ability to meet them?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. That was your reason for sending back word to General Custer?
A. No, sir. I knew that General Custer was laboring under the impression that the Indians were running away; and if he knew they were coming to meet us, I thought he would do something, I did not know what. I thought it was of importance enough for him to know it.
Q. Did it pass through your mind that he would divide his command?
A. No sir.
Q. Did you have a thought on that subject?
A. I thought probably it might change his plans.
Q. In what respect?
A. By pressing forward; and if there were any parties out, he might call then in, or he might have recalled Major Reno for all I know.
Q. Did you think it possible that General Custer would cross to the support of Major Reno?
A. I did not.
Q. This action of your was based upon the large number of Indians you saw coming up the valley?
A. Yes sir, knowing the impression General Custer was laboring under when we started.
Q. You halted, saw part of the command cross the stream; then turned and met Lieutenant Cook. How far from the river’s edge was that, at the point “A”?
A. As I said before this map don’t come up to my idea. That might have been 60 or 70 feet from the river, and from “A” two or three hundred feet.
Q. From the point at which you turned back how far was Lieutenant Cook?
A. I met him from the point “A”, about 75 yard, I think.
Q. Did you meet him at once or did you have to wait?
A. No, he was coming around as we met.
Q. In what direction was he coming?
A. Making around the knoll, coming toward us.
Q. You had some conversation with him?
A. A few words.
Q. What were they?
A. He spoke to me, saying “Hello, Girard, what is the matter?” I said I had come back to report to General Custer that the Indians were coming up the valley to meet us, and I thought he ought to know it. He said “all right, go on, I will go and report.”
Q. Did he turn back?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Was he afterwards found where General Custer was found?
A. I did not see him: I heard he was.
Q. What did you then do?
A. I turned my horse came to the ford. About that time all the troops were over except one scout, whom I had told to wait there for me. We crossed and overtook the troops, and went down at the left of them.
Q. Did you halt on the bank with that scout and have some conversation?
A. No, I crossed over immediately – the troops were going on.
Q. How far from “A” towards “C” were the troops at the time you came back to the ford.
A. I judge they were four or five hundred yards, possibly a quarter of a mile from “A”.
A. They were crossing when I left: I rode about 75 yards and stopped a few seconds, or possibly a minute, and rode back. By the time I got back they were probably 500 yards away.
Q. Did you follow the troops?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Where did you overtake them?
A. I got opposite them about half way down.
Q. On which side?
A. I was on the left of the troops.
Q. Away from the timber?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Did you ride with them the rest of the way?
A. I was at no time within 200 yards of any company: I kept out of the way.
Q. Where did you stop?
A. The scouts were scattered over the bottom. The first halt was made where Reynolds, Herndine (Herendeen) and myself stopped.
Q. How far in rear of the skirmish line were you there at that place?
A. I judge it was between 50 and 75 yards.
Q. The skirmish line was formed at that time, was it?
A. Yes sir, it was.
Q. You galloped to the point “1”?
A. Not at first. I galloped till I overtook the troops.
Q. Then did you go faster or slower?
A. Slower; to allow the troops to get ahead of me.
Q. When you got to the point “1”, did you dismount at once?
A. The troops had got around in front of me; I was riding behind them. Reynolds, Dr. Porter, Herndine (Herendeen) and myself had got together one by one, and we dismounted at the point “1”.
Q. Then you accompanied these troops till they got about half way between “A” and “C”?
A. From where I joined them, I accompanied them side by side till I checked my horse, and allowed them to cross in front of me.
Q. When you checked your horse were you half way or more between “A” and “C”?
A. I judge a little more than half way.
Q. How much slower from that point to the point marked “1” did you ride than the troops did?
A. My impression is I went at a trot and walked part of the time.
Q. How man minutes, do you suppose?
A. At short interval: probably half a minute or a minute. I simply checked my horse.
Q. Your gait from the point where you ceased riding with the column, was a minute or half a minute slower to the point “1”?
A. I did not go slow that whole distance: I check up about that time.
Q. You were a minute or a minute and a half later reaching the point “1” than they were?
A. The time I checked my horse was the time the command got in front of me.
Q. How much were they in front of you: a minute or a minute and a half?
A. I can’t come down to seconds.
Q. When you got there the skirmish line was formed?
A. When I dismounted they were.
Q. You were then what distance behind?
A. From 40 to 75 yards.
Q. Were the troops dismounted?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Where were the horses?
A. The men were leading them into the timber.
Q. What was the position of the skirmish line at the particular period when you dismounted?
A. I could see them deploying as a skirmish line, and I called Reynolds’ attention to the fact that they were forming a skirmish line, when we dismounted.
Q. How far did they advance after they dismounted?
A. I did not see them advance at all.
Q. Do you know whether they did or did not advance?
A. Nothing more than I have stated that they appeared to me to have swung around, making the left the right flank. They may have marched in; the movement I did not see.
Q. If they had swung around would they not have exposed their backs to the Indians?
A. I don’t know that it would be necessary to turn their backs to make that movement?
Q. Then do you mean to say the right of the line was stationary?
A. No sir.
Q. Where was the right of the line at that time?
A. Resting on the brow of the hill in the timber at “C”.
Q. They remained there did they?
A. They fired some shots from that point.
Q. Did they remain there?
A. Some time.
Q. The change was not an advance of the skirmish line, but only a change as to the position of the lien itself?
A. It seemed so to me.
Q. It was to get the men in the timber, was it not?
A. I suppose it was.
Q. Do you mean to say the line did not advance beyond “C”?
A. I can’t state positively.
Q. Do you know whether they did or not?
A. I said I did not know.
Q. Then are you sure you were right when you stated there was no advance of the line after the men had dismounted?
A. I did not answer there was no advance made of the line.
Q. How do you today know whether or not there was any advance?
A. I do not.
Q. How long did these men remain on the skirmish line?
A. I judge about 10 minutes.
Q. They were withdrawn into the timber, were they?
A. They changed their position and came on the brow of the hill.
Q. They were withdrawn, were they?
A. From being a skirmish line on the plain, they were a skirmish line in the timber.
Q. Then the skirmish line was in position when you were at figure “1”.
A. Yes sir.
Q. Was that the time these men were back on the edge of the timber, or the brow of what you call the hill?
A. About that time.
Q. What was done then – what did he troops do?
A. I have stated they were on the brow of hill fighting the Indians as skirmishers.
Q. How long were they there?
A. I estimated it to be about 10 minutes – while I was going and tying my horse, going up 12 or 15 feet and firing 6 or 7 shots.
Q. During those 10 minutes, were they doing anything else than firing?
A. I was not watching the troops.
Q. Could you hear them doing anything else than firing? Could you hear the horses being used in any way?
A. No sir, not during those 10 minutes.
Q. What followed after those 10 minutes passed?
A. The order was given, “Men to your horses, there are Indians in our rear.”
Q. Who gave that order?
A. Captain Moylan.
Q. How far was he from you at the time?
A. He was somewhere within 40 or 50 feet of where I was standing, probably not so far.
Q. Do you know from whom he received that order?
A. I do not.
Q. Did you see Major Reno at that time?
A. I did not.
Q. Then what followed?
A. The skirmish line withdrew and went to the timber for their horses.
Q. They withdrew at that time?
A. Yes sir, when the order was given.
Q. Where had they been before?
A. On the skirmish line.
Q. Where was the line then?
A. On the brow of the hill.
Q. How far from the line were the horses?
A. I can’t say; I did not see the horses.
Q. Where were you at that time?
A. At the extreme right of the whole skirmish line on the brow of the hill – the extreme right hand man.
Q. You were nearest the river of all the skirmishers?
A. I judge I was.
Q. How long were they in leaving the timber after the order to retreat had been given?
A. Probably they occupied a minute or a minute and a half.
Q. How long did it take Major Reno’s command to go from “A” to “C”?
A. I don’t think it took them over 7 minutes – probably five.
Q. They were 10 minutes on the skirmish line?
A. Yes sir.
Q. And 10 minutes in the timber?
A. Yes sir.
Q. and a minute after receiving the order, they were back on the other side of the river – you have told this story a good many times have you not?
A. Not a great many times.
Q. What do you call a great many times?
A. I don’t think I have told it a dozen times.
Q. Has it not been your chief subject of conversation to all parties?
A. With friends I have discussed it several times.
Q. Have you not declared the fight to be at 1 o’clock instead of at 12?
A. I took notes at the time or shortly after.
Q. If you will answer my question you will have an opportunity to explain. Have you not always declared it was 1 o’clock instead of 12 when you were at the timber?
A. I may have said one, and I may have said two in conversations: I would say about.
Q. Could you have said 12?
A. No sir.
Q. Not at any time?
A. No sir.
Q. Could you have said it was about 12 when you crossed at “A”?
A. I might some time or another have said so.
Q. You have today altered your statement of the time. You say you had some papers or letters in your possession. On Friday or Saturday last you made your statement; now where did you get those papers or letters?
A. You said you would allow me to make an explanation. I made notes a short time after, of all the circumstances where I was connected with the movement of the troops, and had them at home and still have them. Before starting here, I tried to find them but could not. On the 28th of February 1877, I received a letter from a certain party, and in reply, I hunted up my notes, refreshed my memory, and wrote what I knew about the whole affair. Sunday I got information that letter was here, and I applied for it and got it, and refreshed my memory as to date.
Q. What ever stories you may have told between the time you sent the letter which you so mysteriously saw on Sunday –
A. There was no mystery about it.
Q. Well; which came into your possession on Sunday. Whatever time you may have fixed for the action on the part of Major Reno, have been incorrect unless you said it was one o’clock he was in the bottom?
A. That part was not correct.
Q. You had a very accurate watch at the time you were in the bottom?
A. I professed to have a very good watch.
Q. Are you sure now that your memory in other particulars accurately repeats what the accurate watch indicated?
A. Yes sir.
Q. You are sure?
A. Yes sir.
Q. You altered not merely the time when Major Reno was in the bottom, but the time when he crossed the ford: what was the occasion for the second alteration?
A. Such a long time has intervened since those circumstances happened, and I have not looked at my memorandum, that it was an impression I had that the crossing was at such time. I was positive it was 10 minutes past 1 or 2 when I looked at my watch, and I thought it was 10 minutes past 1.
Q. You have altered the other movements to correspond with the time you fixed for the presence in the timber?
A. Yes sir.
Q. That is a matter of calculation?
A. I never fixed the time there; I said “about”.
Q. The time Major Reno received the order from General Custer: Have you altered that at all?
A. No; not that I remember. I thought the correction of one would be sufficient for the other.
Q. When you last saw General Custer’s column where was it?
A. At about the letter “D” in the word command was where I last saw what I supposed was his command.
Q. Where were you at that time?
A. On the point of going into the timber at “C”.
Q. Just after you left Reynolds when you and he had the meeting together?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Where was the skirmish line then, in position or not; was it on the plain or about at the edge of the timber?
A. My impression is they were still on the skirmish line as we started to go into the timber.
Q. You were then about at the letter “C”?
A. That is the point.
Q. That was the last time you saw it for the last time 10 or 12 minutes after major Reno left the timber?
A. No sir.
Q. In no part of your testimony?
A. No sir.
Q. If you did state that, it could not be the truth, could it?
A. I say I did not state that.
Q. Did you tell Major Reno of that fact – of having seen that command?
A. Not there. I told him afterwards, in a subsequent conversation, that I had seen General Custer’s command, and he said make a note of it and remember it.
Q. Was it on any day on which the 7th Cavalry was fighting Indians that you had that conversation with Major Reno?
A. No sir.
Q. Was it long after?
A. It might have been 3 or 4 days after.
Q. That was the first time you told Major Reno that?
A. Yes sir.
Q. What do you fix as the distance between the ford “A” and the letter “D” where you saw the column of General Custer?
A. I judge the distance between the two places to be a mile and a half or two miles.
Q. At what gait was the column moving?
A. That I can’t say: it appeared to be boing fast.
Q. What do you fix it at?
A. I simply looked back and saw they were moving, and went into the timber.
Q. Have you no estimate in regard to the rate of speed?
A. I could probably fix the estimate that they were going at a fast trot, by the cloud of dust.
Q. What was the character of the co8untry between “A” and “D”?
A. Rolling and broken, with ravines.
Q. Difficult for horsemen?
A. No sir.
Q. Could he go from A to D or rather from the knoll where you met Lieutenant Cook to D in a direct line?
A. No, sir; you would have to make a circuit.
Q. Could a man go from the point where you saw that column, that you supposed to be General Custer’s, to the point in a direct line – the point where you saw General Custer’s command the next to the last time?
A. No sir; I should say not.
Q. What in your judgment would be the length of time required to pass over that distance, at the rate at which you saw the column moving, from the point where you last saw the column on its way down the stream?
A. When I went down to Colonel Cook, I did not see the command. I don’t know where it was. I knew it was in the rear, but how far back I couldn’t say. It would depend upon the rate the troops were going. If they had been going at the rate at which they were going when I last saw them, I think it would have taken them fifteen or twenty minutes.
Q. How long after you left the ford where Reno crossed on his advance, did you see that column?
A. Probably ten or twelve minutes.
Q. What became of “Bloody Knife”?
A. I didn’t see him, sir.
Q. Do you know whether he was killed or not?
A. I heard he was killed. I understand he was killed by the Cheyenne Indians.
Q. At whose side? Do you know whether it was at Major Reno’s side, or not?
A. I don’t know.
Q. Where were you when the first man was shot?
A. The first man I knew of being shot was to my rear and left, leading horses.
Q. How long after you went into the timber?
A. I hadn’t got into the timber yet. I was ten feet or so from the timber. I saw mounted men leaving the timber going out, and that is all I saw of Major Reno’s command. At that time I heard firing into them, on their way.
Q. Then seeing this column that you supposed to be General Custer’s when the men were on the skirmish line, and it required about ten minutes for them to be withdrawn and placed on the edge of the timber, and ten minutes longer to be in the timber, and one minute to remain there before they started back, where would the column under General Custer have probably been when Major Reno reached to the top of the hill?
A. It would undoubtedly have been beyond this point where Major Reno went up the hill at about a point I will make “2” with pencil. I should estimate the distance to be the two to two and a half miles.
Q. At what rate did Reno’s column move to the ford on the retreat – at a trot or a gallop?
A. I didn’t see them go.
Q. Did you see Major Reno’s column mount the hill-top at all?
A. No, sir, I did not.
Q. What was the distance between the right of the skirmish line, and the hill-top?
A. I should judge it to be nigh on to a mile: about a mile.
Q. How long in your judgment would it take the men whom you say left the timber pell-mell, to go from the skirmish line to the top of that hill, and crossing at this point where Major Reno crossed, and taking his route up that hill-side?
A. I don’t know, sir. It would have taken them but a short time. I should think about four minutes to reach the top of the hill, from the skirmish line.
Q. Then you give about fourteen minutes for the command under Colonel Custer to go from the point D to the point “2”?
A. It would depend on the rate they were going. I should say ten or twelve minutes.
Q. What is the character of the country?
A. It is there on the divide; no bad ravines after you get to the top of the hill – none but very small ones. I think he crossed at the head of them. The country is such that he could have proceeded at a rapid trot.
Q. You didn’t see Major Reno’s column moving out but you heard firing?
A. I heard firing after Reno’s command left the bottom going upon the hill.
Q. State whether or not with a considerable of firing, a column on top of the hill could have heard the firing from Major Reno in the bottom then?
A. I think they ought to hear it.
Q. Would it not be as audible to them as firing on the top of the hill would be to a column in the bottom?
A. I should judge more so.
Q. Did the point where you last saw what you supposed to be General Custer’s column command a view of the timber, and of the plain?
A. I think it did. I passed there in the night, and had it been the daytime, I could have said positively whether it did or not.
Q. You saw the column at that point; now the column of course could have seen the position in which you were?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Wouldn’t it be easier for them to look downward, than for you to look upward?
A. They were more apt to see us than we were to see them. When I saw this column the last time, I was on the point of going down into the timber.
Q. What are the duties of an Indian interpreter?
A. My duties were to communicate between the scouts, and whoever was in command of them, and with the commanding officer; and with any Indians that might come in. Any news I received through the scouts I reported.
Q. You duties were not then those of a scout?
A. I have never been a scout, sir.
Q. And you have lived thirty odd years in the country?
A. Yes, sir: I will be thirty-one years in the Indian country this coming November.
Q. Married, are you?
A. I am, sir.
Q. To an Indian woman?
A. A white woman, sir.
Q. Have you been married an Indian woman?
A. Yes sir, I have been.
Q. This was the first expedition of troops that you ever accompanied?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. You said to Charley Reynolds in the timber: “What kind of a d-d move is this?”
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Why did you think so?
A. Because I thought it was safer in the timber.
Q. Why did you think it safer in the timber?
A. I saw the Indians in the prairie, and if the command moved out into the prairie, I thought the whole command wouldn’t last over five minutes. I thought it was like running into certain death.
Q. And you thought that was an excess of bravery, if anything?
A. I didn’t know at the time what the intentions of the troops were. As I understood at the time, we were to charge; and it was my supposition if they charged they would return there.
Q. Then for the troops to move out of the timber was not an act of cowardice?
A. No, sir; not that I know of.
Q. You said to Reynolds after they had charged they would return?
A. Yes, sir. I didn’t know what was the object of the move, whether it was simply to charge to drive some body of Indians out of a certain place or position, and it would require the whole force of troops to do it. In my judgment it was safer for the troops to remain in the timber.
Q. What would have been the effect of moving in the other direction – down through the village?
A. I should have thought if a move was made in that direction, it would simply have resulted in the loss of some few men, before we reached the next body of timber, but we would have had probably equally as sheltered a position there.
Q. You would still have had to take a sheltered position there?
A. From the number of Indians, I should say yes.
Q. In any event, you would have had to shelter yourselves under cover of the timber?
A. I should have considered it policy to do so, but I am not a military man.
Q. Was Mr. Reynolds a military man?
A. No, sir; he was a scout.
Q. He is the one who lost his head?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And you did not?
A. No, sir.
Q. he was unnerved, was he?
A. Since you are on that subject, I will say that Mr. Reynolds and I were bosom friends and camped together, and twice on the expedition out, he came and told me that he had a presentiment of his death – that he would never return from that expedition – and I advised him to go and see General Terry and get from leave to stay out. If I was in the same position I would do it; and he went to General Terry, and General Terry shamed him out of it.
Q. Then Reynolds was unnerved in the timber?
A. Before he went into it.
Q. Did you see company D, Captain Weir’s company, move down that highland on the right side of the river?
A. I did not, sir.
Q. What troops, if any, save that of the column under General Custer, did you see on the top of the hill or highland on the 25th.
A. The only command I saw on the hill was on the day of the 25th. I did not see Colonel Benteen come up. I was in the timber when he came up, and not looking that direction. I saw Major Reno’s column on that hill-top on the 26th.
Q. On the 25th, in the afternoon of which Colonel Custer was probably killed, did you see any of Major Reno’s column on that hill-top?
A. No, sir. I saw no motion of troops in the direction of where I last saw Colonel Custer’s column, except his column.
Q. If troops had moved out in the afternoon, say at 2 or 3, or 3:30 or 4 o’clock, and moved to the point “2”, wouldn’t that satisfactorily account to your mind for much of the firing you heard in the afternoon – troops moving from this point where Major Reno stood?
A. No, sir, it would not. There was heavy firing in the afternoon at other points than in that direction.
Q. Where?
A. Here on the hill where Major Reno’s command was. I couldn’t fix the hour when that firing commenced. I should judge now, never having given the subject a thought before, that it was between 3 and 4.
Q. Between 3 and 4 was the heavy firing?
A. Yes, sir, heavy firing. I know there was a long space of time there was no firing. I heard a few shots in the bottom – one, two, or three.
Q. You fix between 3 and 3 o’clock as the time of that heavy firing from Major Reno?
A. About the time it commenced. It continued until the evening about dusk; a little before 9 o’clock I think.
Q. Then before three and four this firing commenced, and continued heavily?
A. Heavily.
Q. Do you suppose a man surrounded with a fire of that kind, as close to him as it was to the force under Major Reno, would be likely to hear a noise made in another direction?
A. I think not. He would not be very apt to.
Q. What period of time do you fix during with there was no firing?
A. A couple of hours I should say?
Q. From what time?
A. After Major Reno left the timber, would hear firing up on the top of the hill. A short time after, it ceased entirely; and then again I heard a few shots fired in the valley, and everything remained quiet except a shot now and then, but I couldn’t tell in what direction. This continued until the engagement commenced again in the evening.
Q. Was there much firing on Major Reno’s column when he was in the timber?
A. Oh, a lively skirmishing.
Q. Was the presence of the Indians such that there was reason to expect a prolonged fight there on the part of the Indians?
A. Yes, sir. I can’t say when the first shot was fired by Reno’s command. When I was dismounting I heard a few shots, but I can’t say whether it was in front of the skirmish line or outside. Some of our scouts had gone outside after some ponies.
Q. Do you know whether there was any firing on the skirmish line?
A. I do.
Q. Much or little?
A. I did a little firing. I did not see the troops at that time, but I heard considerable firing while they were in the timber. I do not know how much ammunition each man expended, but I should estimate between thirty and forty rounds to the man that was engaged. I don’t know how man rounds they had when they went into the fight.
Q. Have you any unkind feeling toward Major Reno?
A. I have not, sir.
Q. Not a particle?
A. Not a particle, sir.
Q. Did he dismiss you from your position of interpreter?
A. He did, sir.
Q. Prior to this battle?
A. He did, sir.
Q. And you have no unkind feelings toward him on that account?
A. None at all, sir.
Q. Who reinstated you?
A. General Custer.

The Court was then cleared upon the application of Major Reno for additional witnesses made this morning, and after mature deliberation was reopened and the decision of the court was announced that the application would be granted.

The court then at 2 o’clock P. M., adjourned to meet at 11 o’clock A. M. tomorrow, Tuesday, January 21, 1879.



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