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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
(1951)

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


Page 536


    Up to this point let us inquire what; had been Mai, Renoes conduct. He
had certainly led the charge up to the point where the men were dismounted0
Capt. Moylan testifies that he heard Reno caution the men about overriding,
for he would soon give them work enough. It is in evidence that it was by
his order that the skirmish line was thrown out, gand Lieut. DeRudio states
that not only was Reno on the line, but that he admired his conduct as a
brate
and skillful officer, Lieut. Wallace gives as his opinion that Reno's con-
duct as an officer in the timber with respect to judgment and courage was
all
that could be expected of' any one0 Capto .Moylan testifies that the skirmish
line was deployed by 4aj9 rsenols order. He was there on the line and he
occasionally heard his voice. Lieut. DeRudio testifies that he saw Maj.TReno
encouraging his men and standing in a position where he ought to be as
commanding Officer.
    In the face of this testimony the opinions of George Herendeen, the
Indian scout who saw Renots back but for a moment and from that fact endeavors
to draw an opinion unfavorable to his courage, and Dr. Porter, who afterward
confessed to being so scared in the timber, and who in point of fact, forgot
that he had halted at the edge of the timber with Capt. 'Moylan before he
went back to the river with tie column, are hardly entitled to a passing
respect. The mere act of leaving the timber was in itself an evidence of
courage. A timid man would have remained there, Even Girard testified
that with the number of Indians in the bottom he thought it was an excess
of
bravery to leave the timber, and he stayed behind because he expected the
command would return0
    Now if there was nothing more in this case than this we would claim that
Maj. Rteno was certainly open in no way to censure as an officer and a soldier.
But it is claimed that he showed cowardice in the way in which his command
started from the timber to go to the hilltop0 It is said that no bugle calls
were given and that was an evidence of fear. It will be observed that no
officer was left unless, like L)eRudio, he had retired from the skirmish
line
without orders, or unless like several others, he was unattached, and they
were using their discretion in seeking different places and discharging
different duties in the timber, Unless Capt. Moylan is virtuallpr incorrect
Maj. Rteno came to the edge of the timber and there consulted with him before
any movement of the troops was made, and that it was their Joint judgment
that a higher point should be sought on the other side of the river at which
the force under XWaj. heno could contend on more nearly equal terms with
the
force that was brought against him. It is in evidence through a number of
witnesses that the command was passed down along the line for the ;nen to
mount and to make a charge0  It is in evidence by Cant. 4oylan that the
column was undoubtedly formed before the men left the timber, and that if
they all had been in their places, as it was the expectation of the commander
that they should be, they all would have returned in as good order as his
company did,
    MaJ. Reno led the charge to the river, He was justified in thinking
that after the company officers had received the word to mount and charge
the
men in their co:upanies would be properly informed and fully obey him0 He
was seeking to cross an unknown river, and over country to which he was a
stranger, to find a place where he might ascend the high land on the other
side of the river, It is a matter of dispute where his place should be;
but Capt. M4oylan says, it was as proper for him to be at the front as at
the
rear, and in this opinion he is confirmed by that of other officers. To me
it seems plain that where a ford is to be selected and a crossing is unknown,
it is the duty of the commander to be there to use his discretion and his
judgment with regard to the manner in which the troops shall pass from one
side of the river to the- other, and rise to the new place th t they shall
occupy for defense0 It is a strange thing in this case that those eyes
which saw the most demoralization in the column as it moved to the river,
were not those of military men, and it is undoubtedly true that the column
may not have been in perfect order, but the circumstances forbade it being
so,
It was not a triumphant march, It was the departure of a command from a place
in which destruction was believed to be sure to a spot in which it was hoped
the danger would be less great9  If Reno was doing his duty aL the head of


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