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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 539


ammunition, and after receiving his report and making direction with regard
to the care of the wounded, he sends an order to Plier, w'lho had already
moved
out with his company, that he should endeavor to communicate wiith CusterP
If,
as we believe, Custer and his men had by this time been destroyed anything
else that was done thereafter could have no possible effect urnon that cornrand.
    But it is urged thatt the message carried to Benteen by M.4artin exacted
of
him a duty. If it did, it was the duty of assistance and that he prepared
to
render it in the most effective way. fie did this by replenishing his awrnuni-
tion and by bringing up the pack train which the order to Benteen twice
commanded him to do. The fire that had been heard in the direction of Custpris
battlefield was not such, as was proven by every witness who gave testimony
upon the subject, as to excite any grave distrust of Custergs condition.
The
volleys were few and faint and retreating in sound, and the scattering fire
was such as Indians usually indulge in, even when not actively engaged in
fight;
and the dust that was seen in the village and the Indians circling in the
bottom below did not attest to anyone any severe struggle down the river.
    I have not time to analyze the testimony on this point, but I am sure
that
the Court will find that I have fairly stated in the few words into which
I
have compressed it.
    After the pack train came up, after the wasted ammunition was replaced
and
the wounded   seven or eight in number   were properly cared for each with
six attendants, the main column by Reno's order and with him at the head
moved
down the right bank of the stream to follow the advance guard of Capto Wier,
It reached a point where it was met by Lieut. Hare, Reno's acting Adjutant,
who returned from giving the order to Wier to say that the Indians were so
many in Wier's front that he had used Renos name to order a return.
    Of the ability of this command to force its way further down the river,
there is but one opinion, all unite in saying that a forward movement would
have been its destruction.
    There was no firing to indicate an engagement below. That which hadl
already been heard and ceased, and it had not awakened any belief whatever
that Custer's conumnd was any less able to take care of itself or had met
with
any greater opposition thau. the command uwder Reno. And yet, at the last
moment at the furtherest point in the advance, Benteen placed the guidon
of
the 7th Cavalry.  It was at a place where, as he afterward said he was so
far from Custer's battlefield that the point could not from there be seen.
But even if visible it would have carried no message to those who had fought
on the hills and valleys below because they had passed .way from the region
of
human sense.
    Slowly, and compelled by overwhelming numbers, the command moved back
to
a point which Reno selected and made ite final stand.  The disposition of
the
troops was made under the Indian fire and by Reno and Benteen, and, then
commenced a struggle which for tenacity and bitterness has never I believe
been surpassed in the history of Indian warfare. The depression in which
the
troops fought, the manner in which they were arranged and the success that
attended them, are familiar to this Court. All save Gen. Gibbon unite in
declaring that it was the best position that could have been selected for
the
purpose of this fight;  and to his objection there is the overwhelming answer
that a resistance was made from the afternoon of the 25th day of June until
the evening of the 26th, and that when Gen. Terry came up with Gen. Gibbon
and his force on the 27th they found that portion of the 7th regiment in
position on the unsurrendered heights.
    I shall not linger to describe that heights The character of the place,
the arrangement of the troops, were such that no man could have a full view
of the acts and conduct of the commanding officer. His duty was of a simple
kind. The commands that hie gave were abiding ones, and after their places
had been taken the duties of the soldiers and of their officers were of a
simple and an el*evnentary kind. They were those of self.defenseo  Every
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