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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

EIGHTH DAY

Chicago, Illinois

Tuesday, January 21, 1879

11 o’clock A.M.

The court met pursuant to adjournment.

All members, the Recorder; and Major Reno and his counsel were present.

The proceedings of the last session were read and approved.

WITNESSES GIRARD CORRECTED THE RECORD as the same appears on page 174 in answer to the question, Have you been married to an Indian woman, by making the answer read - “l never was married to an Indian woman: I have had Indian women.”

THE EXAMINATION OF THE WITNESS GIRARD BY MAJOR RENO WAS THEN CONTINUED AS FOLLOWS:

Q. I wish you would fix on this map the place where Charley Reynolds was killed.
A. Reynolds was killed at a point back of the point “1” and in a southeasterly direction from it, at about the point I now mark “3”

Q. Where were you at that time?

A. At the edge of the hill.

Q. Would the letter “C” indicate about the point you were, as well as any other?

A. Yes sir.

Q. Reynold’s was killed trying to overtake Major Reno’s command, was he not?

A. Yes, sir: I suppose so.

Q. How far from the ford “A” was the point on the top of the hill or mountain where General Custer went and on returning found the command had been moved?

A. I judge it to be between 12 and 13 miles.

Q. When he came back the command was already in motion without any order being given by himself?

A. When he returned from the mountain top the command had moved from where we had made coffee that morning, about 3 miles.
A. In the same direction in which it afterwards continued to move?

Q. Did you mean to infer or to have the court to infer that it was by Major Reno’s order the command moved forward?

A. Not at all, from my testimony.

Q. Do you know whether there was any aide-de-camp to General Custer there?

A. Lieutenant Cook w s his adjutant.

Q. Do you know whether there was any officer acting as aide-de-camp?

A. No sir.

Q. Do you know in what capacity Captain Tom Custer was acting?

A. I don’t know: I suppose he was in command of his company.

Q. Do you know whether he had any other duty to perform than to command his company?

A. I do not.

Q. Do you or not know; by whose order the command was moved while General Custer was on the mountain top?

A. No, sir. I never pretended to say I did know.

Q. Was the order of march changed after General Custer returned to the column•?

A. We simply followed down the valley.

Q. The same order was observed after he joined the com11and?

A. The line of march: yes, sir.

Q. Yesterday you were asked if you thought it possible that General Custer would cross to the support of Major Reno, and you answered, no sir. Did you have any thought whatever upon the subject of what would be the action of General Custer, after he received the information you had given to Lieut. Cook?

A. I thought probably it might hurry him up, or change his plans, if he had any.

Q. Did you think he would go on the right hand side of the river?

A. I don't know that I gave the subject a thought at that time.

Q. Were you not astonished to see his column go in that direction?

A. I don't know but I was a little disappointed, though I am not a military man.

Q. Were you not astonished?

A. No, sir, not really astonished.

Q. Have you not said •you were astonished?

A. I have said I expected he would support us; but I did not know how he intended to support us.

Q. Have you not suid you were astonished on seeing him go in that direction?

A. I may have said so,

Q. Have you not said so often?

A. I think not.

Q. Did you say so to any officer?

A. I can •’t s y to whom I addressed my conversation.

Q. Did you ever say so to Colonel E. W. Smith of General Terry's staff?

A. I am not sure.

Q. Have you any children by Indian women?

THE RECORDER OBJECTED TO THE QUESTION because its only object must be to attempt to degrade the witness in public estimation, and asked the Court to instruct the witness he might answer the question or not as he chose. The Court instructed the witness he need not answer.

Q. How many miles had the horses belonging to the command traveled within the three day s preceding, commencing on the 22d of June and ending at the ford 11A 11 on the 25th?
A. I never measured it and would have to guess at the distance. The 22nd I heard they traveled 12 miles; the 23rd about 30 miles; the 24th about 35 miles; the night march on the 24th about 12 miles to where we halted to make coffee; from there to the divide I estimate at 5 miles, and from there to “A” where: Major Reno crossed the river, I estimate the distance to be 13 miles, making a total of 107 miles. This is the first time I ever figured on that distance.

Q. Was your horse any better or worse than the average cavalry horse?

A. I think he was a tougher horse for that purpose. He W&R part Canadian.

Q. Did you not have very much better opportunities for grazing your horse than the Cavalry had?

A. Yes sir, I had.

Q. Was it not their practice to ride in order, and remain together during the march?

A. Yes sir.

G. Did you not have opportunities by virtue of the office you held of going off the line of march and get good grazing for your horse?

A. Yes, sir, I went wherever I wanted to for grass.

Q. You had better opportunities of taking care of your horse than the cavalry­ men?

A. Yes, sir, in the way of grazing.

Q. Were the bodies you found on the left bank of the stream mutilated or not?

A. They were scalped.

Q. Were either of them headless?

A. I think not. That is my recollection now; though seeing so many I can't recollect certainly.

Q. How long after Major Reno’ s command left the timber did Reynolds attempt to follow him?

A. That would be getting me down to second so I can 9t say, it was immediately after.

QUESTIONS BY THE RECORDER

Q. You have testified that you were with General Custer all the time, from the time he left the command where coffee was made in the early morning of the 25th, till he returned and met the command; and you were satisfied the command had been moved forward without any command from General Custer. Now state any fact or circumstance which led you to believe that was the case.
A. On our return, about two miles from the mountain top where Lieutenant Varnum was with the scouts, and about three miles from where we had made coffee, on coming up a little rise, we looked ahead and the command appeared to be coming toward us. General Custer, not addressing his conversation to me, but rather seeming to express his thought aloud, put spurs to his horse, saying “Who in the mischief -”

MAJOR RENO HERE STOPPED THE WITNESS AND OBJECTED to his stating any conversation with General Custer in the absence of Major Reno as not within the scope of this inquiry. THE RECORDER SAID: I wish this witness to detail the facts and circum-stances by which he knows General Custer did not order the command forward: and whether it was by order of Major Reno or someone else may be shown hereafter. THE COURT DIRECTED THE WITNESS TO CONTINUE HIS ANSWER, which he did as follows: moved that command:” and with that started in a fast lope and I followed, The first man he met was Colonel Tom Custer, probably 60 yards ahead of the colllln8.I1d, and the first question the General asked him was : 11Tom, who moved the command?” His reply was, “I don’t know, the orders were to march and we marched.”

Q. You have testified that when yourself, Reynolds, and Herndine (Herendeen) halted in the little sway, near the skirmish line of Major Reno’s command, you saw a few Indians about 1000 yards away. State how you arrived at that distance.
A. The Indians were riding around on those foot-hills to the left of where the skirmish line was formed. They had got about opposite the line and were firing at our scouts who were going into the ravine to try and capture some ponies. We were firing at the Indians, and some one, I don’t remember who, said let us all fire through different sights; and some took 800, some 1000, and some took 1200 yard range, holding a coarse sight on them, and every bullet fell short of them.

Q. Here there any other Indians nearer to Major Reno’s command at that time; if so, how much nearer, and in what numbers?

A. No sir, they appeared to be about the same distance. They were riding along one and two and three together, I can't give the numbers: I don q t think I saw over 40 or 50.

Q. Did you report to Adjutant Cook at the time you met him at that knoll, anything in regard to Major Reno 3 s command having then crossed the river?

A. No sir, not a word.

Q. You have testified that you thought if General Custer knew the Indians were coming up, he might want to recall Major Reno State whether that is a mere supposition of yours; and if not, state what produced that impression on your mind

A. It was simply » A. supposition of my own.

Q. State from what you saw then or learned after, whether the Indians you saw coming up the bottom to meet Major Reno was the whole fighting force of the village or only part of it.

A. I should judge from the number that it was the whole fighting force.

Q. State whether any trumpet or bugle calls were sounded at or about the time Major Reno’s command left the woods on the retreat.

A. I heard none.

Q. State from the time you first heard the scattering shots on the right bank of the river, on hat you believed to be General Custer’s line of march, how long it was till the sound of firing became general.

A. I believe I said 15 or 20 or 25 minutes.

Q. State hew long that general firing lasted

A. About 2 hours,

Q. What was the direction of the sound of that general firing - I don’t mean the exact point of the compass, but whether from up or down the river.

A. From down the river - a southeastern direction.

Q. Had that general firing down the river ceased before you heard the firing as of » A. general engagement around Major Reno’s position on the hill?

A. The general heavy firing had ceased, but as I said before, I heard firing there till d ark.

Q. How long had the heavy firing down the river ceased until you heard heavy firing around Major Reno's position on the hill?

A. I can it fix the time. There was an interval of perhaps half an hour.

Q. State whether or not you heard scattering shots around Major Reno's position on the hill during the time the sound of general firing was going on down the river.

A. I heard a few shots, but I could not tell whether they were on the right or left bank or in the bottom. On the line of Major Reno I s retreat there were several soldiers killed, and as the Indians would pass by them I could he r them f iring into the dead bodies of the soldiers, and I could hear them talking distinctly.

Q. When you heard firing in the direction of where General Custer 9 s body was afterwards found, in what direction was the wind blowing?

A. From the direction of General Custer's battlefield. The• way I remember it is when sitting in the brush in the timber where Major Reno’s skirmish line had been formed, the Indians set fires in the little openings in the timber, and the smoke came over us from the north, passing i.11 the direction from which we had come in the morning

Q. What are: the general duties of an interpreter in his relations to the commanding officer, whether at a post, or in the field?

A. As I understand it, I am under the direct command or order of the Post Commander, whoever he may be. If there is an organization of Indian Scouts, I ail under the command of whoever command s the scouts. If there are any Indians arriving at the Post, I make it a point to get all the news they have, and report it to the commanding officer; and; all communications he has to make to Indians are made through the interpreter.

Q. State whether his duties are of a confidential or public nature.

A. They are often confidential.

Q. Under what commanding officer were you serving when you were subpoenaed here as a witness?

A. Under General Sturgis, 7th Cavalry.

Q. State in what capacity you have been employed by the Government since you have been in the Indian country, and name the officers under whom you have so served

MAJOR RENO OBJECTED TO THE QUESTION as entirely foreign to this inquiry. We have only asked such questions as will tend to show the bias of this witness towards Major Reno. The question was then withdrawn.

Q. State if you know for what reason you were discharged by Major Reno or what reasons were given at the time by Major Reno himself.

MAJOR RENO Objected as an improper subject of inquiry Without clearing the court, the objection of Major Reno was sustained.

Q. You have testified that the command traveled 107 mile from June 22d up to the time you reached the point “A” on the map. Now state how much more than that, if any, your horse had traveled during the same time,
A. I don’t think I had ridden more than 8 or 10 miles more than the command.

Q. How was your horse supplied with grain, as compared with the horses of the command?

A. I don’t know how the horses of the command were fed. I had a little grain to start with and fed it sparingly to make it last.

QUESTIONS BY MAJOR RENO.

Q. What was the character of the country at the base of the mountain to the top of which General Custer went and saw the Indians?
A. On the side we went up was a little ravine with timber in it, and part of the way up there was a spring.

Q. What was the character of the country over which the command moved from the point where General Custer left it that time, to the point of his return to the command?

A. Smooth and level, a little rising.

Q. What was the character of the country on the other side of that?

A. That I could not say.

Q. Was it hilly or not?

A. I think on the right it was not hilly: on tile left it was mountainous.

Q. Was it necessary to go to the top of the mountain to obtain a view of the Indian encampment or village?

A. That was the intention and object.

Q. What was the height of that mountain above the route traveled by the command?

A. I should say several hundred feet.

Q. Did that mountain top command a good view of the Indians?

A. We had a good view of the Indians and ponies: we could not distinguish one from the other We saw a large black mass.

Q. Where was the next point •after that where you saw the Indians?

A. At this knoll near the lodge with the dead Indian in it.

Q. How far from the mountain top was it to that knoll?

A. I should say 11 miles or so.

Q. You many Indian Scout s crossed the ford and went into the engagement Reno?

A. Those persons on the left after ponies, were they Indian Scouts?
A. Yes sir.

Q. You were with Reynolds at that time?

A. Yes sir.

QUESTIONS BY THE COURT Q About the point “B”, you speak of having been over the ground over the left bank of the stream to get lodge poles. Are you certain there was no crossing there - that it would not be possible to make a crossing there?

A. I did not examine it on that side of the river. When we moved down with the command to bury the dead, I noticed a well beaten road led to it, and that the opposite bank was miry, and the bank was about 18 inches higher than the water, I found there had been no horses or animals across there. I knew it must be miry or the Indians themselves would use it.

Q. Do you think it had been used as a watering place from the right bank, with the Indian village on the left bank?

A. Yes sir.

Q. There was no possible way of getting cut on the left bank?

A. I think not with animals.

The witness then retired. LIEUTENANT CHARLES » A. VARNUM, 7TH CAVALRY, a witness called by the Recorder, being first duly sworn, to testify the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, testified as follows: QUESTIONS BY THE RECORDER.

Q. State your name, rank, regiment, and where serving.
A. Charles A, Varnum, 1st Lieutenant and Q.M.7th Cavalry serving at Fort » A. Lincoln, D.T.

Q. On what duty were you on the 25th and 26th days of June, 1876, and with what command?

A. I was 2d Lieut.7th Cavalry at that time, in command of a detachment of Indian Scouts, with the 7th Cavalry under General Custer in the vicinity of the Little Big Horn River, Montana Territory.

Q. Of what troops or companies did General Custer’s command consist on the morning of June 25, 1876?

A. It consisted of 12 companies of the 7th Cavalry, and the detachment of Indian Scouts which I commanded.

Q. Was Major M. » A. Reno, 7th Cavalry with that command?

A. He was, as second in command.

Q. Against what enemy if any was that command operating?

A. Against the hostile Sioux Indians.

Q. State whether or not the 12 companies of the 7th Cavalry were together on the morning of the 25th of June, 1876.

A. They were.

Q. At that, time what were the indications if any, of the proximity of hostile Indians?

A. I was not on the trail exactly on the morning of the 25th, but was detached: scouting. The indications were the statements of our Indians that the' could see the village.

Q. State if you know I into what battalions the command was divided on the 25th of June, and what officers were assigned to the command of those battalions.

A. I was not present with the command when the division was made and do not know, except as appeared after.

Q. State whether or not Major Reno had command of a separate battalion on the 25th of June.

A. He had.

Q. How many companies were in his battalion and what was its effective strength?

A. I don’t know what command was assigned to Major Reno. I only know what was under his command when I met him. He then had three companies with him. The number of men is a matter of opinion only. I think the companies averaged about 40 men each

Q. Do you know what orders were given by General Custer or his adjutant to Major Reno on the 25th of June 1876 with reference to attacking or pursuing the hostile Indians?

A. I did not hear any: I was not present.

Q. Has there any separation of the command; and at what point did the separation of Major Reno’s command from General Custer's occur?

A. The command of Major Reno w1s passing General Custer and his staff at the time I reported to General Custer > Q. That was about a mile from where Major Reno afterwards crossed the Little Big Horn. I started on and fell in with the command as it went. I think one company of the battalion had crossed the river when I reached it

Q Describe with as much particularity as you can the movements of the three companies of Major Reno’s command, from the time it separated from General. Custer’s column, to the time those companies came within sight of the Indian village or within sight of the Indians; and state what orders if any were given by Major Reno during that particular period of time.

A. I don’t know whether the Indians had been seen by Major Reno’s command at the time it separated from General Custer or not. I had seen the Indians in the bottom for an hour or more before the separation took place, as I was on the high bluff s. The three companies moved out in column of fours at a rapid gait I rode at the flank at a rapid gait to overtake the head of the column, crossing the river as I have stated.

Q. After separating from General Custer’s column, where d id you last see it before crossing the river?

A. I did not see it again after I left it. I did not look for it. Probably I might have seen it, but I did not look for it.

Q. When Major Reno's command went down to this ford, how far was it ahead of General Custer’s column at the time it reached the ford, judging by the gait both were going?

A. When left General Custer he was at the head of his column moving at a walk. Major Reno pulled out at a trot. From what I have seen of the country since, General Custer must have turned off, so that it is impossible for me to tell what was their relative positions. They may have been traveling in the same general direction or not, I don’t know.

Q. What time of day was it when the village was first seen by you, and how far was Major Reno’s command from the village, and how far was General Custer’s column from it?

A. I had seen the village before the commands separated.

Q. Describe fully and clearly the location of the village when it was seen by you; the topography of the country around it in reference to the stream, the hills and mountains around it, as it appeared at the time or as subsequently ascertained by you

A. The village was situated along the left bank of the Little Big Horn, and owing to the lay of the land; that is, the bends of the stream, and the timber around on the left bank, it was impossible unless you got out on the plain to see much of the village. I could see some of the teepees, but it was impossible to see the whole extent of it; and never having been over the ground since where the village stood, I don9t know the lay of the country there.

Q. From the view you had of the village or of the Indians, what was your opinion at the time as to the size of the village; that is, the effective fighting force; and state to what extent those impressions were confirmed by events that transpired after.

A. I don’t think I ever made an estimate of the strength of the Indians till it was over. There were more Indians than I ever saw before I had seen immense numbers of Indians from the top of the bluffs while out scouting1 and knew there was a very large village there.

Q. Begin at the right bank of the Little Big Horn, where Major Reno separated from General Custer, and give a detailed description in narrative form, of the successive movements of Major Reno a s column; the orders given by Major Reno or executed under his direction, stating every circumstance within your knowledge as to his conduct as the commander of troops up to and including the 26th of June 1876, In answer to this question, give a description of the ground passed over by Major Reno’s command, the stream or streams crossed, the engagements had, and in short, every circumstance having any relation to the conduct of Major Reno or his command on the 25th and 26th days of June 1876,

A. As I said before, I left the head of General Custer’s column to overtake the battalion that was passing us to get ahead of the troops themselves to scout again, and the head of the column soon after crossed a little tributary of the Little Big Horn. I was about the middle of the column as it passed there, and I was forced off the trail and didn’t join the command until it was just crossing that ford. One company had got across the ford at the time I got across myself. There were eight or ten Indian scouts with me at the time, and as soon as the column passed I was joined by Lieutenant Hare who had been detailed to assist me in scouting. We started out fifty to seventy-five yards ahead of the command o The bottom opened out wider as we went down the stream There was quite a large body of the Indians some little distance off, and they were running away from us and then running back, running back and forth across the prairie and toward us1 and in every direction, apparently trying to kick up all the dust they could; and it was so covered with dust it was impossible to discover the number of Indians there. At times they were apparently running away from us and then halting and circling around and making a heavy dust. I noticed all of a sudden that they stopped and turned backward; and I turned my head around and glanced back to see the on us, and I noticed the battalion deploying from column into line, and I supposed at the time that they supposed they were going to halt, p and turned back on us at that time, The command then moved forward again in line an and we rode on, I suppose, fifty yards in front of the line; and as we went down the bottom we worked out toward the bluff s, toward the left of Colonel. Reno’s line. The Indians let us come closer and closer as we came down, and we could see about half way down to where the final halt was made; and we could see a number of Indian tepees, and as we worked out toward the left, we could see quite a number of tepees, and they evidently were circling amongst themselves; and when they got down opposite the village they didn’t uncover the village much. We went on down possibly two miles, and the line halted and dismounted, I was not present and didn't hear any of the orders, and don’t know what orders were given, ben the line halted, I rode with Lieutenant Hare, in toward the line; and the Indian scouts as they generally fight in the Indian fashion, were gone I don’t know where; and my old company that I belonged to was in the line, Captain Moylan’s, and I went back and reported to him and told him I should stop with his company during the fight. The line was then deployed perpendicularly to the general direction of the river, and the skirmish immediately commenced between the Indians and the troops. When I had been on the line ten or fifteen minutes, I heard somebody say that 11G11 company was going to charge a portion of the village down through the wood s, or something to that effect. I heard some of the men calling out “G” company is going to charge. I was on my horse and I rode down into the timber to go with the company that was going to charge the village. In the timber there is a little glade or opening, and I know in riding in onto this opening I could see the stream in one direction, so we must have been near the stream; and I could see the line of the opening in front, and I supposed there was a detached portion of the village on the other side of the stream, and that was where they were going I heard no order. It was just a rumor that I followed, and I saw Colonel Reno there. He was right with “G” company, evidently deploying it, or assisting to deploy it to go through the woods. The company was on the downstream side of the opening and I said : “I am going to charge ” or something like that, and I rode to where the colonel was, and the colonel asked me if I had just come from the line in front, and I told him I had, a few moments ago. In coming down there I was delayed by the narrow intricate paths in the first edge of the timber, getting through there with my horse, and he said: “I wish you would go back there, and see how things are going on, and come back and report to me.” I turned back on my horse, and was riding across this opening when I met Lieutenant Hodgson, and asked him if he had just come from the line, and he said he had; and I told him Major Reno wanted to know what was going on on the line, and if he would report to him, I would ride up and come down again a few moments afterward. I was with him a few minutes afterward. He thought his horse was shot, and he was anxious to know about it, and: that delayed us a minute; then I went up on the line. I went up through the path s to where the line was. The line at the time appeared to have fallen back to the edge of the timber; that is, it was lying on the edge of the timber instead of being perpendicular to it. The command was lying in the timber, and I could not see all of the men. I saw Captain Moylan the first when I got on to the edge of the line, and he called out - I don’t know that he intended to speak to me - that the horses that we had dismounted from, were beyond the left flank of our line; that the Indians were circling into the timber toward his left flank, and would cut off our horses, and that all or extra ammunition was there, and that something must be done. I told him that I would bring them up, and I went back. In order to go down the line, I had to go down into the woods to this opening, and I rode down to the left of the line and called out for “A” company men to follow me with their horses; and then, I guess, the whole of the other companies followed me. I went up with my own company, and we came right in the rear of where Captain Moylan was. This was about at the rear of his own line. I dismounted then, and went up on the line, and as I did so I heard Captain Moylan call out that his men were out of ammunition, and he ordered that each alternate man should fall back from the line and get ammunition out of their saddle-bags and return to the line, so as to let the others go back and get ammunition from their saddle-bags. Then I got up to the right of the line and met Mr. Girard and Charley Reynolds, and stopped and talked about a minute, or two or three minutes.

Then I heard from the woods cries of “Charge! Charge! We are going to charge!” There was quite a confusion - something about a charge down in the woods, and grabbed my horse and mounted him and said “What’s that?”, and started down into the woods and grabbed my horse. Everybody was mounted. I didn’t hear any orders. I just understood the men calling that they were going to charge, and I grabbed my horse and mounted him, and this being in the bushes and the men mounting just outside of the bushes kept me in, and I couldn’t get out until the men had passed. As soon as they passed so that I could get out, I got into the path myself and came out with the men. The head of the column was then about a couple of rods or something like that from the edge of the timber as I came out, and I let my horse have his head and pretty soon overtook the head of the column. I had a very fast horse. As I came up with the head of the column, it was probably about half-way from there to the ford at which we crossed soon after I came up on the left-hand side of the column, and I didn't see any officer at the head - that is, as I came up; understand. I supposed there had been a charge started, and that the first men out of the woods had struck some Indians and wheeled and started for those, and the others might have followed them. I didn’t know what was up, and I yelled to them first to stop, and my horse was plunging; and I plunged by, and I saw Major Reno and Captain Moylan. Not seeing the command at all on the left, I supposed they were not there; and then they went on from there to the river and crossed the stream. Immediately on the other bank of the stream is a very high bluff, that went up probably, I should judge, one- third of the way, as I remember it now, and I know that the horses were pretty well played out. They were all panting, and climbing that perfectly steep hill, they could hardly make it. I don t know exactly what did happen at that time at the head of the column, because my orderly that had been with me was very badly shot, and his horse was shot, and his horse fell with him there, and I stopped to pick up a loose horse and mount my orderly. The head of the column halted there, or there was a sort of a delay there, and somebody said they were going to move up on to the hill, and there was no use of stopping there; so we went up to the top of the hill. When we arrived on the top of the hill I found there were several men wounded there, and two or three of them were of my old company, the first sergeant and one or two others, and I stopped with them for two or three minutes, getting them off their horses. A few moments afterward a column of troops was in sight coming down the stream toward us, and we stopped there until they came up, which was probably ten or fifteen minutes. My statements in regard to time are more or less a guess. In ten or fifteen minutes, Colonel Benteen came up with his command of three companies. At that time a great number of the men had been in the saddle I suppose for a long time, and they took their canteens and ran right down to the stream to get some water. I don’t recollect seeing Colonel Reno there. We were all about there. I don’t remember him exactly until he came up from the river. He had been down to the river, and when he came up from the river he spoke about finding Lieutenant Hodgson’s body at the foot of the bluffs, and that his watch was gone, but that he had some remaining little trinkets that were on Lieutenant Hodgson’s body. At this time I don’t think that Captain McDougall’s company with the packs was in sight I may be mistaken about it, but I don’t think he was, as I remember that Lieutenant Hare started out soon afterward to go and hurry them up. We waited there then for five or ten minutes, when Colonel Reno told me to take a detachment and r, o down and bury Lieut. Hodgson’s body. There was nothing there to bury it with, and I told him I would have to admit until the packs came up. We remained there until the packs came up, about three-quarters of an hour afterward. I then got two spades from tho packs and started with about six men to go down to the river and bury the bodies. About two-thirds of the way down I saw a lot of men coming out of the woods, and I stopped to see what was up. There was a citizen and quite a number of soldiers who came from the wood s dismounted and were climbing the bluffs, coming up out of the bottom. There was timber immediately in the rear of where the fight had occurred, down in the bottom. As I started with the men to bury the bodies, somebody, I think Lieutenant Wallace, called to me that they wanted me to come back, and I then started immediately up the hill. I got up the hill, and it was very hard, slow work - it was bad lands there and when I got up there most of the command h had started on to move on down the stream, alone the bluffs with the exception, I think, of Captain Moylan’s company, and possibly some of the others. He had most of the wounded. I think they were all of his company, and the men that he had left when he got out of the bottom were hardly sufficient to carry them. There were very few men there belonging to “A” company after the fight, and they moved very slowly. I stayed with him some time, and think Captain McDougall’s company, B, sent a platoon to assist him in carrying the wounded. I started along with “A” company for a while, and as that it was near the river, I started up ahead again. I had no command at all. About a mile and a half from there I joined Captain Weir’s company. That was on the far point of a long range of high bluffs which ran along the right bank of the Little Big Horn. I went on to where his company was dismounted and firing at Indians, who seemed to be corning from out on the prairie and turning back. It was quite long range, but there was a good many shots being fired at him, and he was firing away - a slow firing - a shot now and then at quite a little distance. All the Indians in the country seemed to be coming a little distance off, as fast as they could travel in that direction. Soon after this, we turned and gradually dropped back. I didn't see the troops leave that farther point, but I went back to Captain Moylan and helped with the wounded a little while. I rode back slowly to the rear, and the troops gradually fell back to a point, I think a little farther up the stream than where we touched the bluffs. It was quite a slow movement, as one or two of the companies were dismounted. They got their horses and fell into line, and dropped back into the position that was selected, and on which we afterward fought. The firing was kept up. The entire force seemed to have turned back against us, and we had to fight falling back dismounted to cover the retreat onto the position where we were located afterward. The firing was kept up as long as we could see, until night - a very heavy firing on us; and the men fortified as well as they could with tin cups and sabres (sic: an obvious error in transcription. Probably “spoons” was the word used. (sic: W.A.G.) And the next day we continued the fight nearly all day, and the day following was joined by General Terry.

Q. State if you know at what hour of the day Major Reno’ s command separated from General Custer t s column to go across the ford.
A. Any statement I may make in regard to time would be a guess on my part. The last time I know anything about was 8 o’clock that morning. I was then on top of the mountain, having been sent there the night before. I have very little to base an opinion of time upon unless I connect it with some one else’s statement. I have thought of it a great deal, and I think it must have been 2 o'clock. I base my opinion a good deal on other people's opinions, compared with my own as to time.

Q. Can you locate the time with reference to any particular object: a knoll or teepee?

A. The separation must have occurred soon after we passed a teepee which stood on a tributary of the Little Big Horn.

Q. State if you can how long it was after the separation till Major Reno had effected a crossing of the river.

A. Probably 10 or 15 minutes.

Q. Had the whole command got over in that time?

A. Yes sir, I think so - in 15 minutes.

Q. State whether there was any delay at the crossing or in crossing: if so how much and for what purpose?

A. I don’t know about any delay. The water was quite deep there and the river was probably 25 or 30 feet wide; and in a column of troops getting across there is necessarily some delay; they can’t t keep closed up in the water. How much of a stoppage I can’t say.

Q. Did you notice that any of them stopped to water their horses, or anything of that kind?

A. No sir, everything seemed to be moving rapidly.
A. State in what condition the men and horses were at that time as regards efficiency - whether the horses were comparatively fresh or entirely played out, or any fact about that matter and also about the men.
A. I had not ridden with the column since the morning of the 24th: I had been in the hills all the time. As for myself I was completely exhausted, and nothing but the excitement of going into action kept me in the saddle at all.

Q. State what had brought on the exhaustion in your case.

A. It was riding 30 miles on the 24th, then being sent back 10 miles, making 50 miles, then I rode 20 miles more that night and did not get to the point I was sent to till 2 o’clock in the morning, and as soon as General Custer came up with the command. I was in the saddle again. I was almost constantly in the saddle from 5 O'clock on the morning of the 24th except a short time on the morning of the 25th.

Q. State the relative distance you had traveled as compared with that of the command.

A. They had traveled about the same distance I had except about 20 miles on the afternoon of the 24th, and the difference between going along on the trail and riding out in the hills.

Q. How far was the crossing where Major Reno8 s command crossed the river and the nearest part of the Indian village, as you observed it at the time or after?

A. I have always stated the distance to two miles, as near as I could judge, to where the nearest teepees were in bulk of the village was below that a lot of teepees in that bend. Major Reno’s skirmish line was about and from there it was about 800 yards a bend of the river. Then the main bulk of the village was below that. There must have been quite a solid lot of teepees in that bend.

Q. Describe if you can, the route of advance of Major Reno’s command from the crossing, as compared with the course of the stream, up to where the men were dismounted and redeployed as skirmishers.

A. They moved down the valley of the stream, following its general course; not a straight line but nearly a direct course. The river is very crooked.

Q. After Major Reno’s command crossed the river, how much time elapsed till they were halted and deployed as skirmishers?

A. Fifteen or 20 minutes I should think; may be more or less.

Q. At what gait did the command travel across the bottom from the crossing to where the men were deployed as skirmishers?

A. I think at about a fast trot, I am not certain. I was moving ahead and did not notice that particularly. I was moving rapidly and they were close behind me'.

Q. Did Major Reno’s command encounter any opposition going from the crossing to where it was halted?

A. There was no absolute contact between his command and the Indians.

Q. State as near as you can, in reference to the point of time established in your own mind, at what time of day it was the men were deployed s skirmishers.

A. It must have been half past 2 o’clock. That is assuming my other statement is about correct.

Q. What was the character of the ground from the right of Major Reno’s command to the river at the time it was first deployed as skirmishers?

A. The timber was very heavy along the edge of what is called the dense underbrush, and little paths mad e by animals through it; an open glade with grass in places, then flows the river, with down near the river. That is as I noticed it at the time.

Q. About how far was it from the right of his line to the river?

A. I could not see through and don’t know. It may have been 100 yards.

Q. State whether or not Major Reno charged the enemy when he was within en­ gaging distance, or did he at any time give such order, and if so was it obeyed.

A. I was not near enough to have heard the command if it was given, and can‘t say.

Q. When the command was halted were the Indians firing on it?

A. I believe a few shots had been fired before the command was deployed. There was a sort of engagement between the scouts and the Indians. I don’t know who commenced the firing or where: I know there were some stray shots.

Q. Was that immediately before the command deployed, or about that time?

A. About that time.

Q. There was no firing by Indians on the line at the time the command was halted and deployed?

A. No sir, except those few shots, that I know of.

Q. Where were those few shots?

A. At the left toward the bluff Lieutenant Hare I think fired a few shots.

Q. Describe the nature of the ground in the immediate front of Major Reno's command when it was halted and deployed as skirmishers.

A. It was open prairie. I learned after that there were ravines beyond, but as far as I saw then it was open, the same as the bottom we had passed over.

Q. How long after Major Reno’s command had been halted and deployed as skirmishers before any engagement began there - any firing of consequence?

A. They commenced firing as soon as they got in shape, both from the troops and the Indians.

Q. What advance, if any, was made by Major Reno’s command after the engagement commenced?

A. There was no advance made that I know of.

Q. State as near as you can, the number of Indians that engaged Major Reno’s command at that place, and whether during that engagement there was any increase or decrease in the number of Indians, and what movements if any were mad e by the Indians with reference to Major Reno’s command at that place.

A. It is almost impossible to estimate the strength of mounted Indians. There was a very large force there soon after the command was dismounted, and there was a large force circling around us all the time, and passing around to the left and rear. I was on the line about 15 minutes and then went into the timber as I stated before. When I came out I was only on the line 3 or 4 minutes and I did not pay very much attention to it. There was very heavy firing going on on both sides: I was lying in the edge of the woods with Girard and Reynolds and was anxious to get a drink out of Girard’s flank, and was paying more attention to that than to the Indians.

Q. How far did the Indians seem to be away at that time?

A. The heaviest force of Indians was toward the immediate right of the line as that covered the village I think they were about 300 or 400 yard s from the line, and then there were others here and there running around at long range.

Q. About what number of Indians were in Major Reno’s immediate front, firing on him when you Here on the brow of the hill?

A. I don’t believe there were less than three or four hundred, and there may have been a great many more.

Q. Before you left the line to go back into the wood s as you have testified, how many Indian’s were engaging the line and at what distance from the line?

A. The number actually firing I can't say. It was a very heavy fire coming from the Indians and up the valley, the whole valley seemed to be covered with them.

Q. How many Indians that dust covered it is impossible to estimate? That dust more or less covered the main force of the Indians. As a rule they fire from their horses and they were scampering around, pumping their Winchester rifles into us.

A. How far was the dust from you so as to obscure the Indians?
A. The heavy dust was 800 or 1000 yard s off.

Q. State how long the engagement lasted there from its commencement there in the woods till Major Reno’ s command fell back or left the woods.

A. I would estimate it at half an hour. That is a mere estimate.

Q. Up to the tine the command left, state if you know, how many of Major Reno's command had been killed or disabled.

A. I know of the first sergeant of my company, and my orderly being shot. With the exception of those two, I don’t know.

G. You were on the line before it went into the woods?

A. Yes sir.

Q. Did you see when there, any casualties?

A. No sir.

Q. Did you see any casualties on the line while on the brow of the hill?

A. If there had been any I would not have known it, because if any of the men had been shot they l-would have dropped into the woods and I would not see it.

Q. Did the First Sergeant get with the command up on the hill?

A. Yes sir. He may have got his wound about the time we started out; at any rate he came in on his horses. Nor do I know when Strobe was shot.

Q. State if you know what cause led to the retreat of that command from the timber at that time.

A. I have stated all I know of the circumstances of their leaving. I don’t know that I know anything beyond that.

Q. State whether or not there are trumpet or bugle calls for cavalry for assembly, advance, retreat, charge etc.

A. Yes sir.

Q. Were any trumpet or bugle calls sounded from the time Major Reno’s command left that skirmish line during the 25th and 26th of June?

A. I do not recollect any bugle calls till the evening of the 26th.

Q. If there had been any would you have heard them?

A. Undoubtedly I should have heard them, but it is possible I might have heard them and not recollect it; but I don't think I heard any.

Q. Then state if you know, in what way the order to charge or fall back or retreat, or whatever it was, was communicated to the command.

A. I have no idea whatever. I was on the line and heard some of the men yelling “They are going to charge!” “They are going to charge!” or something like that; and I made for my horse and mounted him.

Q. State whether you felt at that time that the command was in any especial or great danger, if so describe it.

A. It was not a very safe place. I don’t know exactly how you mean. I only know what I have stated: I don’t know anything special. I might say that at the time that movement was made, a great many bullets had commenced to drop into the woods from the rear. I did not see any Indians there, and whether the bullets were from the bluffs above or from below I don t know. The bottom near the stream was heavy underbrush.

Q. Were those shots high or low?

A. Shots coming into the woods it is difficult to tell. I could hear the bullets chip the trees as they would strike, but from where they were coming I could not determine because there was a heavy fire in front.

Q. Do you know whether or not any effort was made to ascertain where tha.t fire from the fear came from?

A. I don’t know about that.

G. Do you know whether any attempt was made to dislodge them from that position?

A. My first knowledge of any firing from their direction was just before we left.

Q. State if you know whether either at the time that command left the woods or on its way to the crossing of the river there was any point designated for the command to rally or retreat to, and if so state who designated it.

A. I don’t know of any.

Q. How far was the point to which Major Reno’s command retreated from the river, where he crossed it on the retreat?

A. Probably about 400 yards in a straight line, up a steep hill.

Q. How far was the crossing from where the command was stationed in the woods?

A. About three fourths of a mile.

Q. From the time the head of the column left the woods on that retreat or charge, about how long did it take the troops to reach that crossing?

A. Assuming my estimate of the distance is correct, they were not more than six or eight minutes.

Q. When the command left the woods, what number of Indians did you see in the immediate front of Major Reno’s command while the command was going to the crossing?

A. As I said before the heaviest force of Indians were covering their village. When we came out I was not at the head of the column, and have no idea how many Indians were in front. When I came out there were a good many Indians scampering along with their Winchester rifles across their saddle f iring into the column. As l came down, there is a sharp bend in the river and there were a good many in there near to the river o I soon got to the head of the column, probably about half way to the crossing, and by the time I got there, the Indians in our front had run off.

Q. When you started to go out of the timber how many Indians did you see to your left?

A. Probably 15 or 20, maybe more. And on that point of land about half way from the skirmish line to the crossing, there were some clumps of bushes and there were Indians running around in there. I have understood since there were several bodies found near there.

Q. Did the command make any halt on crossing the creek to succor the wounded or drive the Indians?

A. There was no halt made till we were across the river.

Q. Did the command on its retreat engage the Indians, or was the command engaged in firing at them?

A. A great many of the men were using their revolvers.

Q. Describe the manner of getting into the river.

A. There was only one way to get in and that was to jump in. It was a straight bank. The other side was a little better, but my horse nearly threw me as he jumped up on the other side.

Q. State if any of the men or horses fell back into the river there.

A. I only know from hearsay.

Q. How near to the river did the Indians pursue the command there?

A. I can't say. When I got across, I started up a ridge to the left of the command and some of the men called to me to come back, and I came back.

Q. Evidently they saw Indians I did not see, because Dr. DeWolf started up that same ridge and was shot. When I got to the column I found my orderly, Strode, wounded; and I stopped to assist him, and did not notice what was behind.
Q. State whether or not that crossing was covered during the retreat.

A. Not that I know of. I know of no deployment to cover it. About the time the greater part of the command had crossed, there were but few shots around us, no heavy firing at all, except the instances I have related, and, I think there was another man killed there: a corporal of Company “A” was killed there and another man near Dr. DeWolf.

Q. Was that at the time of crossing or after?

A. After we crossed: that firing must have come from the hill above us. I know Dr. DeWolf was shot from the hill above us.

Q. There were Indians on the hill in the position you were going to?

A. Yes sir.

Q. What is the formation for a charge of cavalry?

A. That depends on what you are going to charge. The battalion might have charged drawn up in line or drawn up in column of fours, depending on what the object of the charge is. If there was a charge to pass through a body of Indians I think in column of fours would be a good formation with the number of men at his disposal. That would give the men an opportunity to use their revolvers - they could not use their carbines.

With a large force of Indians in front would that be a good formation to pass through them?

A. That would depend on the number of men: I would not like to string out a regiment in that way,

Q. How did the command go across the bottom on the retreat?

A. I think from what I saw it was started in a column of fours. But take a lot of horses many of which had not been drilled before, as ours were, and form a charge in column of fours, and by the time you go 100 yards the men will not all be in their places.

Q. Describe the gait at which Major Reno’s command went across the bottom.

A. It was a good fast gallop I don't think the head of the column was making as fast as it could. I was not long in getting to the head of the column, and I had to saw on my horse1s mouth to keep him down to the gait they were traveling; but I had a good horse

Q. Was your horse excited at the time?

A. If he got a chance to run he was generally excited.

Q. When you saw the command going across the bottom how did it impress you; as a flight, a retreat, or a charge?

A. When I started out of the woods I did not know what was up. I had heard talk of a charge. My impression at first was that they were going to charge somewhere; but seeing no officer as I got to the head of the column, I spoke to some of the men to know what was up, but just then I saw the commanding officer, and said no more

Q Give as careful a description as you can of the stream where Major Reno’s command crossed it on the retreat, as to its width, depth of water, banks on either side, and as to its practicability as a crossing.

A. There were about 4 feet of water in the stream. The banks were probably 4 or 5 feet high; the stream was probably 20 feet wide. The time I passed over it with these troops was the only time I was at it, but that is my recollection now.

Q. From the time you joined the head of the command going to that crossing were there any Indians between the command and the crossing?

A. I did not see any.

Q. Were there any immediately to the right or left?

A. There may have been to the right; I don’t know. I did not see any to the left, after passing that point I have indicated.

Q. Here you in position to have seen them if they had been there?

A. If they were to the left, yes. If they had been to the right I might not have noticed them.

Q. If they had been within 100 yards of the right would you not have noticed them?

A. I might not unless they had killed or wounded someone. I don’t think they followed us to the river. That is they were not at the head of the column.

Q. From the time the command reached that crossing on its retreat till it got on the hill, what was its condition: was it cool, calm and easily handled or otherwise?

A. Everybody I saw was considerably excited. They were considerably excited when they went in, for that matter.

Q. State as a matter of fact whether the command was in a condition to be handled; whether the men se to have any confidence or not.

A. It is difficult for me to state anything about that, because for a long time before that I had not served with the command and knew but a few men even or my own company. I had been detached and absent a long time.

Q. Was the command demoralized to any degree when it reached the top of the hill?

A. It was demoralized to a certain degree. They had left a great many behind them. The organization was not as good as when it went in there. A great many men were gone from the organization.

Then at 2 o'clock Po Mo the Court adjourned to meet at 11 o clock A.M. tomorrow, Wednesday, January, 22, 1879.



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