Thanks Fred,and Merry Christmas to you too.. I trust you will excuse my absence lately. I have had major electrical problems at the house. Fried one computer and two modems. Kept blowing out light bulbs, lived on kerosene lanterns for four weeks. Enjoyed your post especially the photos.
Thanks Fred. Sounds like you and Bill/Keogh appear to have the same or in general about the same area for Martini's departure around the head of Cedar coulee which is at the base between hill 3411 and Sharpshooter ridge.
I may have to print out your post and go over it a few times to get the full affect. I've never been good at scrolling up and down on a computer when trying to go back and forth to compare points. It's much easier to have it all in front of me. I'm fairly sure that a Martini departure point around there can't be ruled out.
Now I want to see if Clair's MTC departure point for Martini can be ruled out or if it remains in the realistic realm of Custer battle models.
Fred, your #2 for Martini viewing the river from the ridge, do you have that at the Reno hill area? And where do you have his sleeping village sighting?
Also, your #3 for Martini, do you (as I do for now) think that he was referring Cedar Coulee thinking that it went towards the river cause it sure looks like it ought to even though the beginning slope is so gradual you don't see where it really goes. I think a Martini departure point there still allows for a Thompson dropout in the same area or further north.
Does your 3411 pics have someone standing there or is that the corner post of the fence for the Realbird property where the fence comes in from the north and then turns west?
I still want to try to figure out if a Reno hill departure point for Martini would work or can be ruled out. At least narrow down the range where he left.
Larry, sounds like a loose neutral problem. If you can't identify it with a particular circuit or your main panel, then check with the neighbors. Could be a loose neutral on the transformer on the pole. Contact the power company about that and mention the blowing light bulbs and loose neutral. They should get right on it.
Merry Christmas to all. Only 6 shopping days left.
I may have to print out your post and go over it a few times to get the full affect. I've never been good at scrolling up and down on a computer when trying to go back and forth to compare points. It's much easier to have it all in front of me.
I totally agree!
Martini # 2 is essentially the same ridge or high point and it is beyond Reno Hill, lower down the river.
Weren't you with Michael Olson and me when we were standing there? I am going to make this post, then modify it if I can find another photo. I believe that when the remarks were made about a sleeping village, Custer and Martini were referring to the small contingent on the east side of the river, the Indians from the Spotted Tail Agency. From 3411, you can see right smack into that area, but you cannot see very far down the river and the Spotted Tail camp may have given Custer a false sense of security, i. e., a smaller village and few if any Indians about. He could not see the extent of the downriver encampment. Reno was engaged when Custer reached 3411, but too much smoke and dust masked much of the valley and even the Indians from whom we have testimony claimed they could barely see. There was probably little firing at that time as I believe Reno's men were busy deploying.
Timing dictates to me that Custer first passed by 3411, seeing his men toward Cedar Coulee, then he cautioned them because they were moving too quickly, then backtracked to 3411. This would explain why Varnum saw the Gray Horse Troop, but not Custer.
It is interesting that you bring up Martini's comments about hearing no firing. I do believe-- as I mentioned above-- that there was only some residual firing by Reno until his men advanced much farther, and the intervening hills and bluffs masked some of it. Plus, I might think that most of the firing was taking place in the western part of the valley as companies A and G were swinging clockwise to head north. That Martini comment further convinces me I am correct in my assessment about what took place on the skirmish line and how that line was developing.
I believe you are correct about the fence post. At first I thought it was at the cutout where the interpretive signs are, but Rich Fox and his brother Dennis, disabused me of that, and then I realized it was a little farther downstream.
I am going back there in 2011 to double-check everything. I do not have any confirming shots from the bluffs and that was a mistake I made when I was there in June. From the roadway there are three "hillocks," any one of which could have been 3411 and I think I may have misjudged which was which. The only way to be sure is to have someone in the valley directing someone on the roadway.
The extent of what Custer saw of the Spotted Tail village may be exaggerated in this picture. For sure, however, he saw some of it and I believe that was what Martini was referring to when he said they saw a sleeping village..
Best wishes, Fred.
Last Edit: Mar 5, 2015 2:06:50 GMT -5 by moderator
I see Doran has Martini leaving in the MTC during Custer's fifth halt. He also has Co. E up on Luce like Michno. I started to read it but he goes off on these tangents about Reno drinking and Benteen forging the bring packs onto Martini's note from Cooke. Anyway, I'll try to follow it and see what his reasoning is. From what I have skimmed so far, Doran has a totally different model than most others. He likes what Curley said to Camp and what John Stands In Timber of the Cheyenne say regarding the D fords. He has Keogh attacking at ford B and then moving over Greasy Grass Ridge to the north.
He does explain the fords though. Ford B is what he calls the natural ford at the mouth of the runoff from MTC creek. The Miniconjou ford is actually a hard bottom ford just above and south of the mouth of the MTC creek runoff and still north of Bouyer Bluff. Probably not more than a few hundred feet difference. It is where the old stage road crosses the river. Realbird ford is down at the property and basically adjacent to Deep Coulee.
I may have been wrong. I was thinking 3411 was the hilltop with the fence post. But I do recall us there at that roadside sign pull off that you and HT have pictured. Isn't Dr. Lord's marker on one of those ridges?
Britt, it was Dr. DeWolf's marker, not Lord. Lord was with Custer. DeWolf's marker and the marker of PVT Elihu Clear are together off the left of 3411 as you are looking into the valley.
I am really bugged, now that we are discussing this, because I think I miscalculated when I was at the pull-off by the interpretive signs. Britt, you may yet be correct about the fence. From the valley, 3411 is clear... no question about it. From the road, however, is where I may have messed up. The day before we were leaving, we went over to Dennis Fox' house. Rich was there and we mentioned our trip through the valley, the skirmish line, and the timber... Gerard's "brow," etc. (That's when I took the pictures of 3411 from below.) I casually mentioned that that "peak" was where the interpretive signs were and Dennis said, No, it was a little bit more downstream. We didn't have the time to go back and double-check. That's why I am not positive about that Spotted Tail Agency picture.
I am actually thinking about calling John Doerner-- who I do not know-- and ask him to go there and take a couple of pictures for me. How brazen is that?
Now... Horsethief... that "Garryowen Loop" was only a dry channel in 1876. I do not have the old maps in front of me, but if you read some of the testimonies, soldiers and Indians alike, there is consensus that some troops actually got into the very upper end of the village. These guys were the "right flankers" of M Company (I can give you their names if you want), who rode along the river as Reno moved down the valley. As Reno dismounted, they continued on through the timber to clear it so Reno could deposit his horses safely within the woods.
There is absolutely no report of having to cross any water and even the testimony of some of the Indians mentions that Indians gathered on their left (which is where the woods would have been), i. e., the troops' right, and waited. There is no mention of water in their accounts. That all leads me to believe that the loop, if it existed in 1876, was dry.
This is an important point because it would validate the soldiers' and Indians' claims of troops in the village. If that loop jutted out into the prairie, the soldiers would have had to circumnavigate it and that would have taken much too long. Reno's entire time in the valley-- from dismount to retreat-- was just about 45-46 minutes and the men who got into the village would have needed most of that time to get through those tangled woods, fire up a few tepees, and high-tail it back into the timber. The M Company guys who were left in the woods after Reno's retreat were probably some of those in that contingent.
Horsethief, I really like your map, but if you could re-draw it with the "Loop" dry it would be great.
Post by Horsethief on Dec 20, 2009 13:28:57 GMT -5
using the 1876 Maguire map(which is likely flawed given rcoi testimony) and sat photos i have attempted to redraw using the river channel shown from the sat - does every one approve? if so i will continue - is there a better map? if so somebody send it or post it and i will make the changes accordingly the we will have something to work on in our collective models - i can then transpose it to the pics - d
#2, I was thinking 3411 was the point where Scott and I walked up to while you began walking and the others drove all the way around to the Fort Custer/timber fight/Pitsch homestead road to make observations of us. We had exchanged cordial greetings with one of the Realbirds who was just coming down with a large group of riders. They rode over to the next bluff top to the north. Scott and I spent quite a bit of time there as the others made a stop or two on the way around to the valley. Carrying 20 power binocs, a camera, and gps, I left my gps on the corner fence post and had to walk back up from the car to get it.
Unlike Doran who believes Custer didn't really see the north end of the village till he got to MTC and know what he was facing, I think with all the tipis, smoke, and pony herds that would be around those northern camps, it would be quite evident to those experienced in NA camps from probably Reno hill and on north be it 3411, Sharpshooter, Weir, Bouyer bluff and so on. Although it would be hard to see the extent of the northern camps until past Weir point. I don't really know what is visible from Sharpshooter as we decided not to walk it. Next time I guess. Bill probably knows.
It would be interesting to know just how much the flow of the river has fluctuated over the years. Some rivers, like the Loup in Nebraska, have a history of channel movement from one side of the river to the other. The actual channel would seem to be dictated by the surrounding/underline geological formations. In the case of the Loup, there is a clay pan (seems almost as hard as sandstone), that helps to direct the channel. It seems that channel movement is most often the result of ice dams /spring thaw. We owned a section of river front and witnessed this first hand when our beach moved 200 yards to the north…has not returned in 15 years ---such is the way of geology. This section of the river is also now subject to diversion upstream….recreation project. The flow and movement are probably nowhere near what they were just forty years ago.
If in fact the river has a tendency to meander and change from the existing channel to previous channels then the reports of taking positions within an apparent draw streambed make perfect sense. It could also be that they were in overflow channels for excess water during floods. The fight taking place in summer, perhaps in a drought, would account for a dry loop. It would be interesting to examine thermal imagery of the river bottom area to see if gravel/rock sediment can be detected through their temperature differences in relation to the surrounding terrain and in doing so establish possible locations for previous channels.
The only problem with a fluctuating channel is that it would seem to move the accepted points of interaction accordingly. It would be interesting to discover if the channel and flow are similar to current conditions or if one should even consider this a possibility given the short span of time that has passed since 1876. Photos in Where Custer Fell give an indication as to the flow of the river in 1886, but what does it tells us about conditions ten years earlier? I have found flow level information from the last fifty years or so, yet, I don’t believe that it would be of value to attempt to interpolate these figures to reflect possible flow conditions prior to the year of the battle. Too many variables to consider.
Fred, your bottom photo is the roadside pulloff and sign after leaving Reno Hill. Centered in the photo is the promontory I believe you were considering as 3411. The top photo is where we stopped and walked to the fence on that promontory. I believe there are others who think the hill with the riders was DeRudio's sighting point.
Notice the deceptive nature of the terrain. Standing at the roadside sign in the bottom photo, it appears the road goes to the south of and behind the hill with the riders. The south side of the hill looks like a standard road cut. But when you get over to the 3411 promontory, you can see the road curves back to the north and stays on the east side of the hill.
The undulating nature of the terrain is something that just doesn't show up on maps. That is the beauty of going there.
Although you can't see tipis up north from there, you can definitely see the pony herds on the benchlands and all the cooking fire smoke arising from the northern camps. With all the NAs going up to get their ponies, the benchlands had to crawling with NAs once the alarm was sounded.
You bring up some interesting points. There is a fellow named Vern Smalley wrote wrote two books, one of which contains some work on the changing channels. Also, if you look at the quadrangle topographic maps (which I have used extensively in figuring out much of this stuff), you will see the varying channels, especially in the Ford A area and the Reno timber area. You will also see undulating terrain where the various creeks-- dry and intermittent-- flow. I was told that Otter Creek, for example, was no longer visible because of all the farming. Yet when I went there in June I was able to locate a section of it near other dry channels. I would suspect it still collects water from time to time as there were several head of cattle right nearby.
As for the geological aspects of the river area, I have no idea. In June, there were one or two areas that had moved off the main channel and had formed new channels... we crossed them. I do not know if those channels were active in 1876.
If memory serves me correct, there was quite a run-off in 1876, from the melting snows, and reports tell us the river was running rapidly. Obviously-- though I do not know if you are aware of it-- the old Ford A is now dry and is reached via Reno Creek before the new, modern-day river channel, i. e., old Ford A is east of the LBH.
The "Garryowen Loop" business is interesting, especially in light of the testimonies.
I think the top photo of the two was shot from that center ground in the bottom photo. I do not believe the riders had moved. So you may be correct about 3411. I may have to put the darned photos (I have more) on a disk and get them printed. Maybe then I can pick up a common terrain feature.
Okay... here is the problem we have. The "Garryowen Loop" is not that very narrow loop on the right. It is the larger, very big loop that forms alongside your two, left-most red markers. Look at the Maguire sketch and notice how he has Reno’s skirmish line straight across the valley floor. The right side of the line (its upper end) rests on a point of timber and then to that point's right you see how he drew the escape route. Some troopers went that way, but others went between the two loops and had to cross the river twice. It is in that area where the legend of Sivertson’s horse began (it was not Sivertson, though there are those who would probably want to shoot me for saying so!!!).
Now… go back to the timber. That is the area along the river to the left of the skirmish line. The village was “concealed” along the river and beyond the woods, i. e., behind the loop. That’s how the M Company men got into it. Many of those trees are not there today. Also, you can see the “glade” they all talk about: it is that small square space Maguire drew within Reno’s timber. It is also to the left of the skirmish line, but within the woods along the river.
When Reno’s command came down the valley, they did so following the general course of the river… not in a straight line. That brought them to the first sharp loop which they skirted. What does not show on the Maguire map is the creek coming out of the foothills and entering the river channel somewhere north of the timber area. As Reno’s troops skirted that first loop, they saw the timber jutting into the prairie, then spotted Indians in that ravine formed by that small creek. Most writers claim the creek ran somewhat parallel to the skirmish line, but that’s not the case.
When confronted by the timber to their front and the ravine to their left (the mounted line would have had to swing counter-clockwise), Reno ordered the dismount. In order to move into the prairie, the command had to pivot M Company clockwise, using G Company as the fulcrum based on the edge of the woods. Reno then ordered horses brought into the timber, but only G and A complied. M Company—nearest the river—turned and swung clockwise and faced west, toward the foothills. As they began to move forward, M's horse-holders kept their horses behind the company and a gap formed between A (now—and still—in the center) and M, now on the line’s left. M moved west into the prairie while A and G swung clockwise in a more northerly fashion. So… if you read stuff about two skirmish lines it is usually misconstrued. The “two skirmish line” business refers to two separate lines, not two separate positions. That’s where all these authors and historians make their mistake. They all say “two,” meaning the line advanced 100 yards. When I say two, I mean two completely different bodies of men.
Post by benteeneast on Dec 21, 2009 8:26:40 GMT -5
Interesting photos. You guys are way ahead of me in studying the details and formulating opinions and theories. Maybe when I retire.... In May of this year my son went with me to the battlefield. Actually he paid for it as a gift. One the places I stopped and took a photo from looks similar to Fred's.
I picked the location solely as a horseman looking for a high point while providing maximum concealment.
That is a tremendous picture! and I think you may be right at that spot, 3411. If you notice, you can see the red fort-like building in the distance (next to the road). Just below that is Reno's timber and to the right front is the flat area where the Spotted Tail village was set up. Notice the treeline along the river. The camp was along that line, only extending into the valley a short distance, not its full width.
The trees on the very far left are where some of Reno's men ran and it is in that area where they found "Sivertson's horse." (Only, as I said earlier, I do not believe it was Sivertson's; I believe it belonged to A Company's John Sullivan, but that's a whole 'nother story.)
And Merry Christmas, Steve. My very best to you and your family.
Steve, your picture is at the first, but possibly the second ravine leading to the river that is North of the hill with the riders and just west of the battlefield road as it leads to Weir point. It is one of the possible locations where Thompson but more likely Custer, or both for that matter, made his/their trek to the river ala Thompson, assuming Custer made such a trek as well.
You can tell you are well north of Fred's photos, Reno hill, and retreat ford. If you look at the red roof of the old fort custer museum out by the frontage road along the interstate, going left is the blacktop road that goes towards Reno's retreat ford. Just to the left of the old museum and below the blacktop road is the shiny roof of the Pitsch homestead which is the south end of the timber fight. (Above the roof in your photo is where the McIntosh marker is). The north end of the timber fight is where the river loops back towards the bluffs. It was at this north loop where I noticed this summer when I walked it that the river began undercutting the bank at the point it turns back east to the bluffs. The present day cattle fence was partly hanging over open river and the bank right there was fresh dirt with a good 12' to 15' straight drop to the river. No way I was going to walk close to it.
The timber fight firing line itself where Jason Pitsch was finding all the artifacts was up on the bench on which the house sits on. It followed the present day cattle road that paralleled the river going north from the east side of the house till where the river cuts back east to the bluffs. The firing line this summer was up on a bench about 8' to 10' above the riverbank, then there was about 30' to 50' foot of open bank before the actual river course. Because of the way the river cuts west in the area south of the Pitsch house, then follows the timber fight line before cutting back east, I suspect someday that the Pitsch house and timber fight line area will be taken out by that small loop of the river. In 1876 that loop wasn't there and/or the river was closer to the bluffs as Reno's thick underbrush area where some of the M company men went into is part under water and the rest is now on east side of the that loop.
Following the treeline from the North corner of the Pitsch house going west and then back north is the treeline that outlines Girard's brow. At the southwest corner of Girard's brow is a huge tree easily identifiable from old fort custer because of its tall foliage. Between the edge of the brow to the timber firing line is a depression that was full of mud over a foot deep when I was there. I tried to cross it by stepping on high spots left by the deep cattle hoof prints but ended up in the mud and walked around. Coursing northeast from just below old fort Custer is a drainage canal that runs into just above the northwest corner of Girard's brow. Around that point it gets deep and has some trees along it. There is also a place where vehicle can drive across it. This is what I believe may be the remnants of the end of Otter creek before the drainage canal was put in. Standing at this point along the fence line and just west of Girards brow and looking north through the trees is a large deep marshy area that I suspect was the river course in 1876. Standing at point is the west and south corner of the that old river course and the west limit. (A little southeast of there and west of Girards brow is the other Marker (I forget but I think it was was scout)).
It's been a while since I saw your photo Steve and I typed more than planned and more than probably anyone cares to know so at this point, I don't know what of any of this you can see in your photo until I post it and go look. As I walked from fort custer this summer, eventually moving north to the treeline and then cutting south because it was a wet summer, the grass was high, and I had to dodge all those drainage ditches, all the descriptions I read just fell into place.
I took about 1500 photos this summer, many were multiple shots in panarama view from particular points. If I could ever figure out where a website would allow all 1500, I'd load them some time. Probably have to start the upload and go to bed.
Just to clarify after looking at the pic again, much of my detail can't be seen from that angle. You can see the top of the huge tree at the southwest corner of Girard's brow. If you follow the river course from the left side of the photo, it would run quite aways into to the 2 or 3 big sections of timber before it cuts back along the firing line. You can't really see the south end of the river loop. This small loop, if it was there in 76, would have been much further east. However on the right side of your photo, just angling down from the ravine about an inch is a green section of dry river bed. This dry river bed extends on a line towards old fort Custer and may be 1876 river bed that links up with that dry loop I found just west of the Girard's brow. Between the river on the left side of your photo and this now dry river bed on the right side of your photo is where I would put the small village of Spotted Tail or late arriving summer roamers who Martini say as sleeping one moment and women, children, and dogs being killed the next (his return trip). It would also match the M company troops moving along there and I believe Thompson's siting of the guidon planting in the village. Any of this stick with anybody? Guess I need to find that ravine on an area map. That point would be too far north to be Derudio's sighting point.