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Reno, Marcus A., 1835-1889, (Marcus Albert) / The official record of a court of inquiry convened at Chicago, Illinois, January 13, 1879, by the President of the United States upon the request of Major Marcus A. Reno, 7th U.S. Cavalry, to investigate his conduct at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, June 25-26, 1876

Twenty-fifth day,   pp. 530-542 PDF (9.3 MB)

Page 530

                  Chicago, Illinois, Monday February 10, 1879 -i. A0 M.s
    The Court met pursuant to adjournment. Present -- AU members of the
Court and the Recorder tMajor Reno and his counsel viere also presentaz
    The proceedings of the last session were read and approved,
    Major Reno then presented, through his counsel, his written address wvhich
was read to the Court and is as follows: to wit: -
    Almost my first utterance in your presen;e was one of distruest of myself,
and of request for your indulgence. and in this my last utterances, I
acknowledge with gratitude the patient courtesy and delicate considerationr
you have shown me during this tedious trial.
    During its proceedings, I have several times spoken with pleasure of
honorable manner in which the Recorder has discharged his official duties1,
Like myself, he has, I know, felt that an inquiry where the conduct of an
officer was in question could not be a personal contest for victory, but
that our mutual efforts should be to lhave it end in the establishment of
    The case has been wider then I anticipated.  It coimnenced as an exmina-
tion of the courage shown by Major Reno, during a time when General Custer
and his column could be affected by his conduct.
    It extended itself until it included his behavior long after General
Custer and those under him had ended with honor their lives as soldiersS,
and it ended with a question into the sobriety of Major Reno, at a time when
the Indians were with savage joy holding their scalp dance over their defeat
of Custer and his command,
    These charges so varied and unlike, so distant and remote from the real
charge wrhich prevoked this CorxU't of Inquirya have been the subject of
testimony from many witnesses, These represent different degrees of
character and will I Ban sure be properly discrIMinated between by the Court,
It is not so much of them as of the principle which underlies testimony
applicable to all cases of a military character that I wish to speakO
A military Court is always, so far as I am informed, composed of officers
higher., or at least equal, in grade to the one who is interested in its
proceedings. The reason for tihe rule is I think plain, It is found not
merely on the greater impartiality which higher rank confers, not merely
in the greater knowledge and ampler experience which attends :t, but also
in the fact that the independence of every officer requires thnat those
who live in the suburbs of the Army to whom he must give peremptory orders
to which the only answer is unquestioning obedience shall not be his
Judge in matters which coneern hils life, or his honor.
    Apply the reason governs the selection of militasy Courts to the
kind of testimony by which you, as members of this Court, would be governed0
and you will see that some of the testimony requires a rule of rigid
cons truction
    Let it once be understood that an orderly   a private soldier of 3Limiteed
intelligence, who follows at the heels of his comnmanding officer is
evidence to establish an important order, as much as the officer who ride,
by his side;  that an Indian Interpreter on his first expedition can give
reliable testimony upon Solitary matters, or after being ditsmiseed for
stealing can sit in judgment on the courage of his superior; or that a
mule-packer struck in the face by an officer for being where it was V-tougl-il"
he had no duty to be, can ordginate a charge of drunkennes against th,:t
officer, and unsupported by any other witness, save thnt of a,3nother irtamle
-; 530-

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