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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 537


the column,, I submit that he should not be charged with want of duty at
its
rear.
    At this point it may perhaps be well to pause and to meet another charge
that- Reno in some way failed of his duty because of the untimely fate which
befell Gen. Custer and his command, and which it is claimed would have been
averted if Reno had continued in the timber0 I think there is no truth in
this belief. The Indians were certainly there in number that in the minds
of military men justifies the belief that they were able to overcome at one
and the same time each portion of the command that then engaged them. Lieut.
Wallace says, "I do not think that the entire force of the village was
attack-
ing us while we were in the woods, When we were on the hill the entire force
of the Indians was never engaged against us, because I could see crowds a
long
way off". He again says "I would not like to take half the warriors
they had
and take the command we had with us and fight themotm  Col. Benteen said,
in
answer to a question whether flenogs withdrawal did not leave many Indians
at
liberty to go down and attack Custer, "Doubtless it did; but I do not
think
that they had any use for them down theret, In answer to a question whether
if he had succeeded in joining N-Taj. Reno in the timber and hield a force
of
Indians there it would have contributed to the safety of Gen. Custer, Benteen
replied "It would not have made a particle of difference. Those seven
companies would have been completely hived there, and Gen. Custer would have
had to look out for himself Just the same." The fact that Renois withdrawal
from the timber had no influence whatever upon the fate of Gen. Custer is
seen
by two considerations. It is plain from the testimony that Reno was at least
forty five minutes in the timber. During that time Gen. Custer with his
command was thrice seen. Lieut. Varnum saw the Gray Horse Company on the
bluffs above the right bank of the river about thirty minutes before Reno
left the timber. He believed that Custer had certainly time to reach the
point on the map known as ford B before Reno reached the top of the hill.
DeRudio,, who saw swith straining eyes Custer with Cook standing on the high
land overlooking Reno in the timber, states that the firing he heard down
the
river was almost simultaneous with Renogs reaching the top of the hill. If
that proves anything it proves that the diversion that Reno made lasted until
Custer had reached within striking distance. M4artin., the trumpeter, testified
that he left Custer at a considerable distance lower down the river than
the
point where Reno made his stand - that he had time to go a number of miles
to
Benteen, to return with the column, and on his return to see Reno and his
command reach the top of the bluff.  Custer having promised to sunport Reno
and having had a view of him attacking the Indians under his order would
undoubtedly in turn have charged the Indians at the first point where he
could
have reached them,  That point was the ford B.
    It cannot be doubted by this court that the testimony that they have
heard,
not merely from officers of Reno's command, but also from the evidence Given
by Lieut. Col. Sheridan, who made a careful examination of that point and
found a gravel bottom at the river there over which he several times sent
a
wagon, that there was a proper point for Gen. Custer to give his promised
suiport to Reno, if it was in the power of his command to support him at
all0
If the mind can relieve testimony and draw any inferences from it, it is
over-
whelingly clear that Custer had reached the ford B where he could have
crossed to the Indian village before the Indians whom Reno was diverting
by
his attack in the timber could have reached that point; and from the known
character of Custer for valor and for bravery, it was equally plain that
not-
withstanding the thousand Indians whom Reno detained rat the upper end of
the
village, there were Indians at the ford B in such overwhelming number as
to
make it a matter of madness for Custer and his command to engage them there,
That explains the fact of the sleeping village which '14artin says that Custer
saw,
    So far then as Reno's retreat from the timber was concerned it had no
effect whatever on the fate of Gen. Custer, for not it man nor a horse were
found dead at the ford B, and the first indications that Custer had found
his
enemy was at least eight hundred yards below the ford on the right bank
of the river0


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