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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 532

    His Judgment of the military movement differs from that of many of the
officers and perhaps its value would have been understood by John Randolph
who, when Chairman of the M4ilitary Committee in Congress said, in answer
a member, formerly a watch-maker, who criticised the bill,> that the gentleman
might understand tick-tacs, but certainly did not understand tactics,
    Of the two mule-packers who try to establish the drunkenness of Reno
the night of the 25th of June, 1876, but little shall be said. The one who
confirms the story had need on cross-examiination to alter the time he fixea
for the arrival on the hill, the time when the firing begun and ended. He
whose duty it was to be with the packs says the ammunition boxes were not
opened when other witnesses testify to the opposite being the fact, and Lt0
Wallace gives the circumstances of their being opened with an axe, on account
of the haste needed at that time,
    The other one, the one struck by Reno, has never heard of any stealing
from the packs, and yet has lost his own things by theft. Having lost his
blanket he goes, as he testifies, without any orders from any officer, to
get one belonging to someone, X rather, to any one else.
    Mark their story   Reno is drunk, is staggering, is stammering;   and
beside Gizrard  the non-combatant - no one of all that command on the hilltop
even imagines him to be in that condition until they reach Chicago more than
two years and a half after the time they fix. They made a mistake in making
him too drunk. Drunkenness has a beginning, an existence, and an end, and
with the frequent contact Reno had with officers and men he must, if !.n
of the stages of it, have been detected and exposed. He staggers, and yet
hit the man without being disturbed in his position. He has to brace himself
against the packs, and yet without difficulty stoops and picks up the carbine,
And with a whiskey-bottle in one hand, and a carbine in the other one he
stands an object of dread to Frett, who so safely affects courage in the
    It was hardly necessary to summon Edgerly, and Benteen,, and Wallace,
Mathey and .McDougall to contradict them and to propose to have Hare and
and Moylan telegraph their knowledge upon this subject, It was only dignify-
ing falsehood and putting honesty to unnecessary labor,,
    The question of time and distance about which such differing evidence
has been given is not to my mind of great importance except as it determines
the relation of one command to another, And this relation and position can,
as the court has no doubt already observed, be fixed independently of
watches, Where Custerbs column was with reference to that of Reno can be
definitely placed without regard to the time of day. There will be I think
but little difficulty upon that point0
    The Court will also, I am sure, remember that Reno's duty was made difficult
by the fact that surrender was impossible, and therefore the whole course
of his conduct was different from what it would have been against a civilized
    The history of this case presents some difficulty with regard to distance
and to time, but none so serious but that a very little consideration will
remove themt all. As far as the testimony exhibits the Seventh regiment of
Cavalry was on the 25th day of June 1876 moved from the divide between the
Rosebud and the Little Big Horn rivers in the direction of the latter stream
With several halts it reached a point at about 12 o'clock upon that day where
a division of the command was made into battalions. One battalion, consisting
of three companies was placed under the command of Col.. Benteeng, A second
battalion of the same number of companies was placed undeer the order of
Reno, and five companies remained under the cormmnd of Gen. Custer.  If we
rely, as I think we can, with the greatest safety, upon the testimony of
Lieut. Iallace Who Ikept the itinerary, this point Of division was about
miles distant from the Little Big Horn river, and the point where Maj. Reno
afterward crossed it. Immediately after the division was made, ColBenteen

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