Private William Morris of M Company describes Lt. Hare's conduct at LBH wherein he may well have saved Reno's command on the bluffs, before the arrival of Col. Benteen (from a newspaper interview clipping found in Dr. Porter's scrapbook):
(Describing Reno's retreat out of the valley) Here I saw one of the bravest deeds of the day. Reno, like most of the rest of us, was stampeded, and with what head he had, was trying to hunt out the highest bluff on which to make a stand. Captain Moylan had started to continue on his own hook, with what was left of his men from the retreat ordered by Reno. Lieut. Hare, who had passed me on his fast horse across the stream, yelled out with a voice that could be heard all over the field: "If we've got to die, lets die here like men! I'm a fighting son of a b*tch from Texas!" Then, turning to Moylan, he called out: "Don't run off like a pack of whipped curs!" That gave Reno his cue, and recovering himself, he said, "Captain Moylan, dismount those men." Moylan didn't obey at once, and Reno repeated the order. So 'A' troop dismounted and deployed as skirmishers. Hare was born in Indiana, but was appointed to West Point from Texas, and was graduated only 2 years before. He was game clear through, and he saved the command from a stampede then and there.
Hi Keogh, its nice to hear about officers like Hare getting some good press, was both Lt. Hare and Lt. Varnum with Maj. Reno's HQ when he formed Skirmish Line, that sounds like a large HQ for me, if they include. Dr James De Wolf George Herendeen Charley Reynolds William Jackson Fred Gerard Isaiah Dorman Bloody Knife Caroo Ma-Tok-Sha White Cloud Whole Buffalo Half Yellow Face White Swan plus the enlisted men Trooper Clear (Lt Hare’s Orderly) Trooper H Abbots (hospital attendant) Trooper F Brown (clerk to major Reno’s Bn) Trooper J Butler (hospital attendant) Trooper E Davern (orderly) Trooper E Strode (Lt Varnum’s Orderly) Trooper A McLlhargey (courier) Trooper J Mitchell (courier)
Thats 25 men including Reno.
Last Edit: Aug 11, 2011 5:14:41 GMT -5 by yantaylor
Hi Yan. No, I would not include any of the scouts in Reno's HQ detachment. The only officers in his HQ besides himself would be Lts. Hodgeson and Wallace. Add to that the 2 doctors and all the orderlies orderlies and you pretty well have it. I do believe there is some debate on whether or not Reno retained the services of a trumpeter. He certainly should have, although it appears he didn't bother to use him very much. After Hodgson's death, Hare was chosen by Reno to become his adjutant. Lt. Varnum attached himself to his own 'A' Company during the skirmish line action.
From part of a letter written by General Godfrey concerning Lt. Hare's role in the LBH Battle, found at the Army War College in Carlisle PA (my own comments in yellow). This letter is important in that Godfrey describes in vivid detail the withdrawal of the troops from Weir Point---an event which was not described in any detail at the RCOI:
On the night of June 24, Lt. Hare was detailed to duty with the Indian Scouts and was with Major Reno's command in the attack on the hostile Indians June 25th, known as the "Battle of the Little Big Horn." When Captain Benteen joined Major Reno after the latter's retreat from the valley of the Little Big Horn, Lt. Hare joined my troop -- his scouts having fled from the field. A few minutes later, Major Reno sent for him and ordered him to go back to the pack train and bring up the ammunition packs. Lt. Hare's horse was badly blown from climbing the bluffs and he asked me for my horse to make the trip. When he had mounted, I bade him good luck, for I never expected to see him again, as the hostiles were all around us. He, however, was able to elude them and in time, returned with the reserve ammunition. Major Reno later informed me that he had detailed Lt. Hare as his adjutant. Sometime after the arrival of the pack train and escort, Major Reno moved the command about 2 miles in the direction of what subsequently proved to be Custer's Battlefield, to the highest point on a ridge bordering the valley.
While overlooking the battlefield, the hostiles began moving in our direction, and Major Reno, with 4 troops and the pack train, moved back about 2 miles where he made a stand and later was surrounded and besieged two days [Note: Godfrey makes it clear here that Reno retreated from the Weir Peaks with only 4 troops initially, to make his dispositions on the hill where he was later besieged. These 4 troops were: H, G, B & A Companies. D, M & K were left behind on the Weir Peaks to cover this withdrawal and buy some time for Reno to set up a defensive perimeter at the weak location he chose to defend on the bluffs.], leaving Troops D, K and M to hold the high point and the ridge above. After Major Reno had selected his position, he sent Lt. Hare to order these troops to rejoin the main command. Being nearest, this order was given me first, and he went to the other two troops, these being attacked [Godfrey explains here that his K Troop was deployed furthest south on the bluffs and was the first to withdraw from the Peaks. Apparently, both troops D & M were under attack with hostile elements at the time of this withdrawal.]. I mounted my troop and was marching when Lt. Hare overtook me. About that time, Troop M came over the high point and soon passed us at full gallop, and soon after Troop D crossed this point at full gallop, followed by the hostiles in close pursuit. I remarked to Hare: "If this continues, the Indians will follow us right into the main command, and I am going to try and stop it." He replied, "All right, Adjutant or no Adjutant, I'm going to stay with you." I replied, "I may need you," having in mind Major Reno's disorganized retreat from the bottom, the enterprise seemed indeed, like a forlorn hope and was realized more perfectly when ghe other two troops passed on to the main command. [Here, Godfrey indicates that both Troops M & D continued on to the defensive perimeter, leaving K Troop alone as a dismounted rear guard.]
The troop was dismounted, opened fire and drove the hostiles to cover. During their retreat of about a mile or more the main command was enabled to make disposition for defense, the hostiles several times were driven to cover and prevented making a follow up on the position. At one time, a panic was imminent, and then it was that Lt. Hare's presence and help was greatly appreciated in controlling the nervous and critical situation. [It is a shame that Major Reno did not have the services of Lt. Godfrey during his disorganized rout from the valley, which was not a much greater distance as his later retreat from the Weir Peaks -- about a mile. Godfrey demonstrated how a proper dismounted retreat of a single company of less than 40 troopers were able to stem a mounted attack by many times his number.]
I have thus particularized this episode because, so far as I know, no official report was ever submitted relative to it. I briefly mentioned it in a paper read before the Officer Lyceum at West Point. In 1880, and later in part, it was published in the Century Magazine, January 1892. [In that article, Godfrey also described how he had designated Lt. Hare and 10 troopers to move across Cedar Coulee and occupy the summit of Sharpshooter Ridge to keep the hostiles from reaching that critically important feature and inflicting severe casualties on Reno's lager 1/4 mile below. Reno countermanded this order and Godfrey's company was recalled to the lager immediately, thus allowing the Indians access to this ridge and causing the death of a good number of troopers later that day and the next.]
[Another important point to take from this is the willingness of Godfrey to deploy an officer and 10 troopers to occupy a point a good distance from his own position on the bluffs -- on a ridge across Cedar Coulee from his position. There are some who mistakenly believe that the 7th Cav officers would never deploy units of soldiers less than a full company size anywhere on the battlefield, despite the example of MacDougall with the rear guard. Godfrey's example here should put that notion to rest. The distance from his position on the bluffs to Sharpshooter Ridge was no further than that of Finley Ridge to Calhoun Hill. If Godfrey was willing to hold Sharpshooter Ridge with but 10 troopers, why would Keogh refrain from attempting to hold Finley Ridge with 20?]
I submit it now because I believe Lt. Hare is entitled to the citation for his gallant and unselfish conduct in the two episodes above related, and as his then troop commander, I so recommend.
[Godfrey felt obliged to take this unusual step due to the fact that Reno refused to recognize the valor of any of the officers, other than Benteen, serving under his command that day.]
Well said Bill, nice reading, Reno should have given some attention to his junior officers after the battle, to only mention his self and Benteen puts him in the same boat as Custer, I wonder if Custer would have pulled this mission off, would he have mentioned the fact of his junior officers acting with Initiative and bravery. Ian.
Last Edit: Nov 8, 2011 6:13:35 GMT -5 by yantaylor
After reading this letter by Godfrey about Hare, it appears to put the troops in a different location than I have visualized. Godfrey is furtherest south and D & M are out of sight? I kinda had it the other way around with Godfrey to the north and all troops in sight of each other. So where is Weir in this mix? Guess I'd have to see this scenario on a map to understand it.
Also, if Hare was sent across cedar coulee to SSR with 10 men, that would put him in close proximity to Charley Vincent according to where some believe he fell.
This is all new to me as I had most troops lined up along the WP sugarloaf with possibly Godfrey on west of WP and perhaps further north by the river. I had Edgerly out northeast of the Sugarloaf but he was supposed to have returned before Benteen left.
It appears M must have survived the valley fight fairly intact since they were left out there to cover the retreat of others. M's galloping past Godfrey explains how they also left WP fairly intact as well. French served his men well.
Maybe Clair could map this out so we discuss how this fits in with other stuff.
I myself was surprized at how spaced the Companies are on WP, I had no idea that somewhere placed on Sugar Loaf and some on WP, maybe they should have been more compact to support each other if attacked. Just goes to show that after the Indians beat Reno and then destroyed Custer, that another 4 or 5 companies did not faze them and took the battle to them, so much for the Indians running away when faced by the Army. Ian.
Last Edit: Nov 8, 2011 11:47:32 GMT -5 by yantaylor
Luther Hare's account of the LBH battle given to Walter Camp in 1910, published in Hammer's Custer in 76, my own interpretive comments in brackets: Part I
[We] camped on [the] Rosebud [below Busby] about 5 pm [on] June 24. [We] marched again at 11 p.m. and [he] does not know how far from [the] camp to [the] point where [they] turned up Davis Creek. [He] did not know how [they] left [the] Rosebud until [the] next morning. [They] marched until some time before daylight [between 1 and 2 am according to other accounts] and then went into camp and lay there until between 8 and 9 [am]. Before this, [ie. shortly after 8 am] Custer had been out ahead with the scouts viewing [the] valley of [the] Little Big Horn. [They] marched again between 8 and 9 [am] and went up [about 4 1/2 miles] nearly to [the] divide and halted. [They] lay concealed less than 1/2 mile east of [the] divide for more than an hour. The was between 10:00 a.m. and noon. [Note: If the command started out between 8 and 9 am and traveled about 4.5 miles to halt #2 on the divide, this would encompass roughly 1 hour of time, suggesting their likely arrival at halt #2 at sometime between 9 and 10 am -- or according to Hare's recollection, closer to 10 am.] During this halt, Custer again went to [the] Crows Nest to look at [the] Indians [this time using Lt. DeRudio's field glasses] [Note: Custer would likely have gone for his second look into the valley immediately following Officer's Call, which was reported to have occurred sometime between 10 and 10:30 am.] After Custer had come down from [the] Crows Nest, he hear Mitch Boyer say to him: "General, I have been with these Indians for 30 years and this is the largest village I have ever known of," evidently judging from the signs of the trail.
After leaving the divide, Varnum pulled out with the Rees and Hare took the Crows. Custer told Hare to keep a lookout and send back a report as soon as he should discover any Indians. Hare pulled out and after going some distance, looked back and saw Custer coming right behind him with the command, so he (Hare) increased his gait, but before he got to [the] lone tepee [Note: This would be the first of the two lone tepees they would encounter on Ash/Reno Creek, roughly 4 miles east of Ford A] [he] was overtaken by Sergeant Major Sharrow in a great rush with Custer's compliments and said he (Custer) had as yet heard nothing from Hare. Hare sent back his compliments and said he would report Indians as soon as he could get sight of any of them. [Note: This event occurred shorly before the village was sighted by the Crow scouts from atop the White bluffs nearby.] Hare says Custer seemed to be very impatient, as [the] above account shows. Before [they] got down to [the second] lone tepee [about 1 3/4 miles east of Ford A], Varnum's [Ree] scouts had come over to Hare, and Varnum and his orderly had gone on ahead toward the river [to Varnum's Lookout on the south side of Ash/Reno Creek]. Varnum [then] returned and met Hare just before they got to [the second] lone tepee. [At the] lone tepee, Hare heard Cooke tell Reno to go on in pursuit of the Indians [previously spotted by Fred Gerard] and Custer would follow right behind and support him. [Note: Hare confirms that Custer's initial intention, as claimed by Reno, was to follow behind Reno into the valley.] [He] thinks Custer may have later repeated the order verbally [between the lone tepee and the Eschelman fords]. Before this, [while at the lone tepee], Custer had ordered the [Ree] scouts ahead [in pursuit of the party of Indians spotted by Gerard] but they refused to go, and Custer ordered them to be dismounted and their horses taken from them. (Camp note: About the tumult of [the] Rees when ordered ahead. [The] Rees did not want to go [into the valley] alone. [They] wanted [the] soldiers right [there] with them. All this was result of misunderstanding on their part.) Gerard explained matters to the Rees and so they rode out ahead of Reno and reached Ford A about 1/2 mile ahead of them.
Luther Hare's account of the LBH battle given to Walter Camp in 1910, published in Hammer's Custer in 76, my own interpretive comments in brackets: Part II
At the ford, the scouts watered and pulled out just as Reno and his battalion came up. Reno stopped here and took plenty of time to water. [He] was here [at Ford A] 10 or 15 minutes, says Hare. [Note: With the 15 minutes or so it took Reno to reach Ford A from where he left Custer at the Eschelman fords, it would be at least 30 minutes by the time Reno's battalion crossed the river to the west side.] Hare says it is not true that Reno did not give his men time to water. While Reno was watering, Hare went on down the valley with the scouts, and about half way (or about a mile) down to [the] skirmish line, some of the Rees took off after a herd of Sioux ponies. An Indian with these ponies turned and fired on the Rees but they chased him and captured some of the ponies and ran them off. The remainder of the Rees went on down and went into [the] timber after Reno and his men did; and that they [afterwards] forded the river a long way farther downstream than Reno's men did. He thinks [it was] about half way between [the] timber [position] and where Reno retreated across [the river]. [Note: This may be a reference to the group of Rees with Billy Cross who swung off to the north in search of Sioux ponies.] [He] says he remembers seeing the Rees after he got to [the] top of [the] hill on [the] retreat [from the valley]. [He] says they [the Rees] were up there while Reno was advancing down river toward Custer. [Note: Reno's advance toward Custer began about 4:20 pm according to several witness recollections and would coincide with Herendeen's recollection of meeting up with Billy Cross and a group of Rees on the bluffs at about the same time.]
He does not know why two Crows went with Reno and four with Custer. [He] did not know that Cooke and Keogh went to Ford A with Reno [as Hare had likely already crossed over the river and moved on into the valley with the scouts before they arrived there.] [He] did not remember seeing Billy Cross in [the] valley fight, [perhaps because Cross had departed the valley early on, about the start of Reno's skirmish line action, after capturing a bunch of Sioux ponies and driving them up to the bluffs] but had no distinct recollection of him anywhere. In [the] valley fight, there was a coulee [ie. Shoulder Blade Creek] 300 or 400 yards in advance of the skirmish line (Camp note: This has all been cut away be erosion of the river) [Note: Camp is mistaken on this location and thought this coulee to be several hundred yards southeast of Shoulder Blade Creek] and the Indians were pouring out of it as if concealed there and waiting for the soldiers. In [the] timber, he did not hear any order to retreat. [Pvt.] Clear [Hare's orderly] brought his horse and said the command was leaving. When he started [out from the timber], A and M [Companies] had [been] gone quite some time and G [Company] had left just ahead of him, but he caught up to M [Co]. [Note: Hare tells us that A and M Troops left the timber without bothering to wait for the arrival of G Troop, still down in the timber, and had been "gone quite some time" before he and the latter Troop got out of the timber to begin their retreat.]
Company M had taken away off to [the] right, on a line straight for Ford A, and [Capt.] French had become separated from his company and 3 or 4 Indians [were] after him, but his company turned to [the] left and forded where [the] rest did. [Note: French indicated he had to shoot his way out to get through this group of Indians, apparently hitting some or all of them in the process.] [Pvt.] Clear was killed just after leaving [the] timber. While going up [the] bluffs on [the] retreat he saw some Sioux going up ahead of them. He saw the Indians fire who killed Dr. DeWolf. Just before [he] got ot [the] top of [the] bluffs, he saw a mounted Sioux going north along [the] bluffs just below [the] top [of the] same. Reno made him acting adjutant [on the death of Lt. Hodson]. Benteen came up about 10 minutes after Reno got to [the] top of [the] bluffs [referring here to the lead elements of Reno's command who first reached the bluffs; this would be about 2:30 pm according to the time estimates given by Gerard, DeRudio, Reno, Mathey and Godfrey], and about 10 minutes after this [or about 2:40 pm based on the above estimates], Reno sent Hare [back] to [the advance] packs [under Lt. Mathey]. Hare's horse had been shot through [the] jaws at [the] roots of [its] tongue, so that [the] tongue [was] hanging out of [its] mouth and he traded horses with Godfrey and started [back] for [the ammo] packs. [He] heard no firing in [the] direction of Custer before he started [back for the packs].
Luther Hare's account of the LBH battle given to Walter Camp in 1910, published in Hammer's Custer in 76, my own interpretive comments in brackets: Part III
He met [the] packs north of [the] north fork of Sundance [Ash/Reno] Creek. (Camp field note: Hare met [the advance] pack train about half way between [the] right branch [ie. the North Fork] of Benteen [ie. Reno] Creek and Reno Hill.) a mile, or not much more from Reno [Hill], but out of sight of Reno. [He] returned right away -- [he] was gone from Reno about 20 minutes [returning about 3 pm according to the time estimates based on Gerard, Reno, Godfrey, DeRudio and Mathey]. Just as he got back [from his trip to Mathey with the advance packs] he heard firing in [the] direction of Custer and was told that previous firing down there [to the north] was heard while he was gone. [Note: The start of the Custer fight occurred within minutes of Hare's departure for the ammo packs.] Just as he got back [about 3 pm based on most -- but not all -- witness recollections], he looked [north] and saw Co. D advancing toward Custer. They were some distance out but still in sight. [Note: Co. D would likely have left Reno Hill about 5 minutes before Hare returned from his 20 minute trip to the advance packs.] [He] thinks the other 6 companies [besides Co. D] did not advance until at least a full hour after Reno retreated up [the bluffs]. [Note: From this statement it would appear that Hare is suggesting that the remaining 6 companies moves out together about an hour after Reno reached the bluffs, or about 30 minutes after D Co. left for the Wear Peaks. However, a careful reading of his words suggest that this was not so. What Hare is saying, imo, is that none of the 6 remaining companies -- aside from D Co -- left for the Weir Peaks before an hour had elapsed after Reno reached the bluffs. He did not say that all 6 companies began their advance to the Peaks an hour after Reno's retreat to the bluffs, but rather, that none of them began their advance north before that time. This is an important difference. I believe Hare is attempting to tell us, in a round about way, that M Company began its advance to the Weir Peaks about an hour after Reno retreated to the bluffs, and roughly 30 minutes after D Co. left on their advance to the Peaks. Godfrey, Edgerly, and other officer accounts all suggest that M Co was the 2nd to arrive on the Weir Peaks, although none of them suggested just when this occurred. We do know that K and H Companies were still on Reno Hill when McDougall's rear guard arrived on the bluffs an hour and a half after Reno did, and McDougall assures us that Reno did not begin his advance as soon as the final packs arrived. Thus we can surmise that K and H Co arrived at the Weir Peaks about one hour after M Co did, or about 2 hours after Reno reached the bluffs on his retreat from the valley. These were likely the only four companies to reach the Weir Peaks. Companies A, B, G and the packs under Reno's direct command never made it to the Weir Peaks.]
Reno [now] sent him to go to [Col.] Weir and tell Weir to connect with Custer. He found [Lt.] Edgerly out ahead [on the forward ridge of the Weir Peaks] but says [that] Edgerly did not hold his advanced position more than 10 minutes [before falling back higher up the ridge line]. M, K and H Companies [Note: Hare, like Godfrey and Edgerly, specifically mentions M, K and H in this order to indicate the correct arrival of these 3 companies on the Weir Peaks. This is not a coincidence] were strung out along [the] bluffs behind Co. D [still in the advance] parallel with [the] river, but [with] no company quite up to Co. D. [He] says he (Hare) did not order any company back [from the Weir Peaks] on his own authority [as Reno falsely alleged in his RCOI testimony] . [He] says [that] Benteen and Reno were discussing matters. (They were standing about 1/2 mile in [the] rear of Co. D and Benteen suggested to Reno that they fall back as they were in a poor place for defense. Benteen remarked that Indians could pass around them to the east and also by [the] river flat at the west and would soon be in their rear if [they] did not fall back. This was probably why Reno decided to fall back. [Note:The Indians would retain all of these same capabilities from the Reno Hill position, so one wonders what advantage the latter had over the Weir Peaks?] Hare does not remember who gave the order to fall back [from the Weir Peaks, although as Hare was serving as Col. Reno's adjutant at the time, it is not difficult to figure out who he was covering up for.] While out in the advance with Company D, the Indians were thick over on Custer [ie. Battle] ridge and [they] were firing and at that moment, Hare thought Custer [or more likely Keogh at this time] was [actively] fighting them. [Note: It was likely at this time that Keogh would be able to spot troops on the forward ridges of Weir Point, just above Medicine Tail Coulee. I believe it was this sighting of Co D that caused Keogh to send part of C Co down to occupy Finley Ridge to support the expected advance of these troops to Luce Ridge. Students of the battle will note how Hare's description of the troops on Battle Ridge actively fighting differ from those of other officers, like Edgerly, who later attempted to foster the notion that all he could see where Indians shooting at objects on the ground, no doubt believing it better to let sleeping dogs lie, than open up a can of worms. Hare should be commended for the direct honesty of his account.]
Luther Hare's account of the LBH battle given to Walter Camp in 1910, published in Hammer's Custer in 76, my own interpretive comments in brackets: Part IV
In falling back [from the Weir Peaks some time later], Hare was with Co. K. Weir [Co. D] and French [Co. M] were covering [the] retreat [back to Reno Hill], but before [the] men were formed on Reno hill, these two companies came tearing along and passed Co. K, which [then] dismounted at the point where Reno retreated up the bluffs (500 yards north of Reno hill) [Note: This location marks the start of Godfrey's rear guard action] and held the Indians in check. Hare thinks this move of Godfrey [that Benteen later attempted to take credit for, was] a clever one, as otherwise the Indians would have followed the men right into the corral. On the [Reno] hill the companies were in order from right to left -- A, D, G, K, M, B [Note: H Co. would be deployed at the extreme southern end closest to the river adjacent to M.] On [the] evening of June 25, [1st Sgt.] DeWitt Winney [of K Co.] was killed. [Trooper] Julius Helmer (whom Capt. Hale had sent to the Regiment to make 1st Sgt. as soon as he [Hale] would return. Hale was then on recruiting serice) was shot through the bowls and died in great agony, begging his comrades to kill him to put him out of misery. After [the] sun went down there was a long twilight, when [they] could not see well [enough] to aim. [The] soldiers finally ceased firing and so did [the] Indians, but the latter all of a sudden started up again.
He went up on Beneen's line in p.m. [the afternoon of] June 26 to see about men going for water and he and Benteen waked around. The Indians were shooting a hail of bullets at them. He asked Benteen if he desired to draw the Indian fire and Benteen smiled and sad: "If they are going to get you, they will get you, somewhere else if not here." (This was after they had charged [earlier that morning]. The Indians [were] all around and the firing had slackened.) [He] says Benteen was superintending the men going for water on June 26. [He] says there must have been more than the 12 [men Pvt. Stanislaw] Roy speaks of who went for water, for they went at several different times and Roy might not have known of others going. [He] says [Pvt.] Mike Madden was an intemperate fellow whom no one had much respect for, and when he volunteered to go for water everyone was much surprised. Varnum (Camp: this was probably Benteen, as Martin says) had the heel of [his] boot shot off. A bullet ticked Benteen's thumb. Hare says McDougall [was] slightly wounded. French went up and helped Benteen in his second charge and then remained with Benteen. After his own charge, Benteen could see Indians concentrating in front of [the] other 4 companies, D, G, K and B, and then went over and told Reno that he (Benteen) had just run them out of his own front, and he (Reno) had better charge and drive them out of his (Reno's) front.
On Custer [or Battle] ridge he saw the dead horses near Custer. The talk at the time was that these had been shot dwn by the soldiers for barricades but it did not impress him that such was the fact. [He] says he buried men near Calhoun. He says Calhoun and Critteneden's bodies lay near together. An arrow had been shot into Crittenden's [glass] eye. Tom Custer was horribly mutilated but his heart was not cut out. He does not recall any [men] scalped in [the] group with Custer except [Col.] Cooke, one of whose side burns had been cut off. [He] thinks [the] 7th Infantry buried Reno's men in [the] valley . . . . Hare has no doubt about the correctness of the Indian claim that they lost only 47 killed outright. He says many of the soldiers were raw and not trained to shooting. [He] says [Troopers] Canby, Brown and Stein were left at Powder River [depot]. He is not certain where Tritton was . . . . Hare say [they had] plenty of ammunition. Each troop had a mule packed with two boxes [of] 2000 rounds and headquarters had another, making 13 [ammunition] mules and 26 boxes or 26000 rounds besides what [the] men carried in [their] belts and saddles, which was 100 rounds each.
The following letter was written by Luther Hare to Col. Charles Bates on June 11, 1929 regarding events recollected at the LBH battle, my own comments in brackets:
On the 25th of June, I was on duty with the Indian scouts who were commanded by Lieutenant Varnum. The scouts were attached to Major Reno's squadron and were all in action with the Sioux Indians, and the regiment, the 7th Cavalry, was commanded by Lieut. Col. George A. Custer. After Reno, Benteen . . . had all joined on Reno Hill, Capt. Weir and Troop D marched off to the north [shortly before 3:00 p.m.] because we had heard very distinct firing to the north. I am satisfied all of the officers of the command heard it, although some of them (two or three) may have thought the firing was in the village. Finally, after the pack train was up [note: according to our participant timeline, the pack train arrived on Reno Hill between 4:00 and 4:20 p.m.], the remainder of the command started north in the direction of the firing to the north [at about 4:30 p.m.]. The three advanced troops, D, M, and K in the order named [Note: Hare confirms the correct order of arrival of the first troops to reach the Weir Peaks. It is interesting that he neglects to mention the arrival of any other troops, which, if they ever did reach the Peaks, did not remain there for more than a few minutes], reached the hills overlooking Medicine Tail Coulee and the region to the north [Note: according to our participant timeline, K Co. would have joined D & M Troops out on the Weir Peaks at about 5:00 p.m.] We could see people over there on what is now known as Custer Ridge but could not distinguish whether they were Indians or soldiers. There were some of them riding fast. I think by the time we got down there [after 5:00 p.m.] they were finishing up the wounded and mutilating. Finally, the Indians, seeing us in this position [out on the Weir Peaks just after 5:00 p.m.], started for us. Soon M Troop started for the rear, that is to the south, and passed K Troop [who had previously left the Peaks] at an advanced gait. Then D Troop passed to the rear at a similar rate of speed, and soon all organizations were out of sight over the ridge in the direction of Reno Hill except K Troop.
Lieutenant Godfrey was in command of K Troop, to which I belonged, although I was acting squadron adjutant in the place of Hodgson, killed in the bottom. Lieut. Godfrey said to me, "These Indians are closing in on us too fast. We have got to stop and hold them." He then gave orders for his troop to dismount and deployed and caused the Indians to stop their advance there at that time, [Note: Hare appears to confirm Godfrey's assertion that he made this decision to halt and form a rear guard on his own volition, contradicting Benteen's claim that he ordered Godfrey to do so.] and the led horses got back to Reno Hill without difficulty. K Troop then made an orderly retreat by alternate files to Reno Hill. [Note: Hare here describes one effective method of retreating dismounted from hostile warriors.] This was the first check the Indians received on the 25th of June. I have always thought that this movement saved the command, as had they (the Indians) had been able to charge in on the troops on Reno Hill, without being delayed, the result would have been the same as on Custer Ridge.
While we were burying the dead on the Custer battlefield on the 28th of June, both Benteen and Weir said to me that they thought Reno should have stayed in the bottom. I (on the contrary) always thought that getting on the high ground was the wise course to follow. On one occasion I said to Capt. Benteen, "If you had come up and found Reno in the bottom position, surrounded by Indians, you would have joined him." This would have left McDougall and his troop with the extra ammunition outside in a perilous position. Benteen was very decided that Reno should have stayed in the bottom. [Note: Hare apparently did not believe that Benteen would have waited for the main pack train to reach him before moving to support Reno in the valley, and Benteen did not disagree with him when Hare mention this to him.] The daring way in which Varnum exposed himself, encouraging the men, confirmed his previous fine record. He was a soldier of magnificent courage. He had shown this under Custer in a previous Indian fight [at the Yellowstone River in Aug 1873]. I saw Lieut. Varnum a great deal throughout the fight on Reno Hill.