The yellow dots are the dry channel that formed Gerard's "brow." This was the defensive "skirmish line" the troops occupied when they pulled back to the timber. Tons of army artifacts were found there.
Your green dots are Otter Creek... or its remnants. This is where I believe the Indians had moved-- on foot-- to get into Reno's advance. This was the ravine "filled" with Indians that several troops alluded to. As Reno dismounted, the Indians would have abandoned that creek bed, fleeing as the skirmish lines were formed and advanced. The A Company men would have entered that creek bed and passed through it. Actually, they all would have passed through it! Its only relevance would be that Reno had no clue what to expect from it, particularly since smoke and dust were inhibiting his sight lines.
Martini at the RCOI— 1. The Gray Horse Company was in the center of the column. 
We must be careful of this one, as Martini is contradicted by Kanipe (or was it Thompson?) who claimed that the Gray Horse Company was riding closest to the bluffs on the far left of the command. The 5 companies were described riding abreast in the following order: E, F, L, I & C. The placement of E Co. must therefore remain in question.
My point here was that Custer had changed his formation, nothing more. I would suspect he pulled Yates ahead, then E, then Keogh's battalion. "Middle" or "center" are relative terms and I find it rather hard to believe that with everything going on, Martini, Kanipe, or Thompson-- three guys whose overall words I trust about as much as I trust my ex-wife's-- would remember, so specifically, the order of march as Custer was busting it up the bluffs. Besides, E in the middle makes no sense.
Fred wrote: "As for the move down toward Ford B, I am more inclined to believe it took place on the ridges, not in MTC. I see little or no sense in sending a company into MTC once the entire command was atop Luce Ridge. Why would anyone do that? I cannot rule it out, but I cannot justify it from a military perspective. This is still an operation consumed by the need for speed and information and sending a company into MTC makes no tactical sense."
I guess I can't see the entire command going to Luce first before the attack on Ford B unless their route was down South MTC to begin with. Moving up to Luce first exposes the command to being sighted by the NAs before the attack began. Which is why I have them departing Cedar Coulee as 5 companies, moving across MTC to the lower north face. (I lost my map so maybe I'm all wet here as the road may come down Western with Cedar thus being a logical route to Luce as well.) There is a funny shaped low spot in the lower north face of MTC just north and a little west of the roadside sign and pull off of the battlefield road as it comes down from Weir point and turns into MTC. That is the point of division and decision for troops going north from MTC. At that point in the terrain, it is easy to follow it up to Luce or cut north across Butler. That point is somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 yards from the river which is all some people say they got. Troops west of the point would likely move north across Butler and troops east of that point would likely move to Luce. If Martini left at MTC like some claim, then the attack he saw was the 5 companies moving down and across MTC to that decision point from the mouth of Cedar and MTC. His later vision of retreating troops was just those being deployed up to Luce.
I know Keogh has Varnum's sighting of Co. E as it crosses the south end of Sharpshooter to move over to South MTC. For the best of both worlds, I suppose the inverse could be true. The command passes by Reno hill and is moving north on the easterly side of where the ridge is ahead of them. Custer goes to 3411 and decides on a plan. He lets Keogh take his battalion down South MTC and he takes Yates and E Co. with him down Cedar. That puts Varnum's sighting as the grey horse troop moving over lower sharpshooter ridge going over to Cedar.
Just some rambling thoughts that come to mind as we discuss this.
I believe Custer led his command down Cedar Coulee... maybe some troops along the coulee's side-wall, maybe others at its apex... then moved into MTC. He moved down MTC until he found that easy slope that led up to the top of the ridges, i. e., Luce Ridge.
He needed to get a better view of the valley and the village and the so-called refugees (remember, Luce is still a mile or better from the river), so he told Keogh to remain back, protect Custer's rear, and prepare to either move forward or move north.
Custer then rode the ridges west toward the river and the village. He got to the western extreme of Butler Ridge and stopped, either sending one company to the flats in his front, i. e., the ford area, to act as a covering screen while Custer surveyed what was in front of him. From this position he got a bird's-eye view of the valley, the village's extent and the exodus of its non-combatants. There was also some sharp, though not heavy, firing from across the river. He lost one, maybe two men in that area, and then pulled back to head farther north: the exodus was massive and too many Indians were escaping down the valley. He re-united with Keogh-- either in the vicinity of Nye-Cartwright or at Calhoun Hill, your pick.
Beyond that point, we will need another new thread.
Thanks Fred. Do you have Custer and HQ stopped around the area of the Butler marker then? Off the top of my head, I don't remember where it is except the ridge was named for him. If so, then maybe there is a connection there.
Yes... or just beyond it. I walked up to that point with Michael when we were all in the Ford B area. You had just pulled your car around and stopped. Scott was there as well, riding along with you. This was when Scottie decided to walk a ways with Michael and me.
Michael and I climbed to the top of the bluff and had we kept going we would have passed through the area where Butler was killed and then on to Luce or Nye-Cartwright. I believe Custer sat on top of that bluff, surveying the situation as it was unfolding in front of him. I guess I think it was Yates and F with him while Smith and E sat in the flats area in front of Custer, facing the river. At that point Smith was a covering force probably popping off at the Indians across the river, keeping their heads down while Old Iron Pants looked around.
Enjoy your turkey and give my very best to your family.
Let me chime in again. Been reading Doran on his movements to MTC. Not a lot of detail about following trails but he relies on Martini's writings to Camp. Martini has the Custer wing 5 companies abreast ascending/marching up to the top and along SSR at the top until he blew the bugle commands to make a 90 degree turn to the right and down into South MTC. This was done at the point where the top was too narrow to hold 5 columns. While these columns were on top of SSR is where Varnum made his sighting. In South MTC he blew the bugle commands to make a 90 degree left turn down South MTC. They came out and went up East Ridge and over to Luce I believe. I want to reread it again to be sure where Martini has his departure point but I believe his return ride was up Cedar Coulee.
Doran has Custer not knowing the extent of the Onion Creek/Cheyenne camps while going down MTC but aren't they visible from SSR where he has the whole wing riding?
Doran also has Sharrow leaving at Benteen Hill and Kanipe leaving just north of Reno Hill at the base of SSR. He has 5 halts including one where Kanipe was sent.
I'm not sure if that long ride ascending SSR and along the top to the narrow point adds up. Has me wondering if Martini's column right bugle turn and the column left bugle turn actually occured at Mathey's knoll or maybe the Benteen Hill area? (Martini wasn't with Camp at the LBH as far as I know so this would have to be by correspondence)
Doran also has a group of NA tribal police sitting on Benteen Hill watching them as they come up from the Lone Tipi, Custer's watering place at North Reno Creek, and Mathey's knoll.
Doran also mentions a place called Weir Hill which may be SSR or someplace else but it isn't Weir Point. Anyone know were this is? According to the map, it is in the vicinity of SSR but I will look again.
Doran also mentions Crow Hill. It is a hill I believe just north of Weir point. I'll check the map again but anyone know where this is by another name? Maybe this is where PrinciessTori described what the Realbirds said was the big hill where it all started when she went on that ride with them.
And for those worried about dust, dust trails, and Custer hiding from the NAs, why did Custer or whoever order the F company foragers to burn the Lone Tipi? It suggests to me they already knew they were discovered and in the attack mode.
I think this is one of the reasons I picked up the Doran book, skimmed through it, and put it back on my bookshelf. I decided to read The Army and Navy Journal and two books on archaeology instead.
There is entirely too much speculation and unsupported supposition in almost anything Doran says (as I read your post and others describing the man's theories). There is neither historical nor archaeological evidence to support most of what he has written, and he makes statements that require extreme stretches in imagination to believe. He then intersperses reasonable and probably factual data to make the whole palatable. He has too much activity, too many directional shifts, and too many conflicting testimonies for any of it to ring true in an authoritative manner.
Martini's comments over the years, i. e., 2 1/2 years after the battle; 32 and then 34 years after the battle; and 46 years after the battle, contradict one another, and it seems to me Doran merely chooses one that best suits a theory. Yet there is no corroborating evidence to support his claim, and in fact, there are unanswered questions mitigating against these theories. Everything is rendered too complicated and his book is fused with too many poorly-done charts and graphs, maps, photos, and sketches, that might be better served at an economics seminar.
DeDudio at the RCOI— 1. DeRudio stated that the only time he saw Custer was when he—DeRudio—was in the timber.  [This is where it gets interesting.] 2. He claimed he saw Custer, Cooke, and 1 other man.  [TWC? TMP Martini?] • Q: “State whether you saw the column of General Custer, or any portion of it, at any time after Major Reno parted from him at the abandoned tepee, if so, where and what effect did what you saw have on you.” A: “I did not see any part of the column of General Custer. The only observation I made was while I was in the woods. General Custer, Lieutenant Cooke and another man I could not recognize came to the highest point on the bluff and waved their hats and made motions like they were cheering, and pretty soon disappeared. I judge by that that probably his column was behind the bluffs.”  3. Q: “Where was that?” A: “It was on the highest point on the right bank of the creek, just below where Dr. DeWolf was killed.” Q: “Did you see the place generally known as the point Captain Weir went to?” A: “Yes…” Q: “Was General Custer on that point?” A: “No, on one nearer the river and the highest point on that side. [From where DeRudio was, the bluffs appear higher than Weir Peaks!] Where I saw General Custer the river comes right under the bluff. The bluff comes in very narrow there, hardly wide enough for a horse to stand on.”  4. This was 1,000 yards away.  [If I figured DeRudio’s position in the timber correctly, it was more like 1,400 yards away.] 5. DeRudio thought this spot was about 500 or 600 yards downstream from Reno’s position on the hill.  6. DeRudio was insistent it was the highest point and he even went there with Benteen on the 27th.  • This sighting occurred about 4 or 5 minutes before Reno retreated from the timber.  It was 5 or 6 minutes after DeRudio had reached that spot 1 1/2 minutes after entering the timber.  7. DeRudio looked at his watch shortly after the command left. It was about 2 o’clock.  • He kept looking at his watch every 10 minutes or so.  [Seems like nerves to me!]
1) I think that Fred has correctly identified the hill that DeRudio speaks of as Hill 3411.
2) I go with DeRudio's watch times as being more or less accurate pertaining to his siting on the bluffs.
3) I do think it likely that Custer went to Hill 3411 to view the battle after he surmounted the heights of Sharpshooter Ridge (he could have reached it in no time at all) perhaps to confer briefly with Bouyer about fording the river downstream. While there, it is possible that he was spotted by DeRudio.
4) That said, I do think there are some problems with DeRudio's statements. These would include the following:
a) Contrary to his assertions, DeRudio would not have been able to identify Custer or Cooke at a distance of 1400 yards with the naked eye.
b) Custer was not likely to have remained on the bluffs for the length of time DeRudio would have us believe. If true, and assuming that Varnum's siting of the Gray Horse Troop moving across the top of the bluffs (either at 3411 or Sharpshooter Ridge) occured just as Reno was forming up his skirmish line on the valley floor, DeRudio would have us believe that Custer sat atop the bluffs watching nearly the entire skirmish line deployment, advance, fight and retreat to the timber before moving off towards MTC. This timing would not fit with the evidence at hand.
DeRudio claims a siting time of about 2:00 pm which means that Custer would have sat atop the bluffs for at least 20 or 30 minutes while Reno was down in the valley fighting. He claims that Reno retreated from the valley about 10 minutes or so after he spotted Custer on the bluffs. I must question the likelihood of this timing.
c) We must factor in DeRudio's well known tendency to embellish his facts (at least according to Benteen).
Either DeRudio saw Custer and Cooke at the beginning of Reno's fight in the valley (perhaps as he was just deploying his initial skirmish line) which would have placed the siting significantly earlier than DeRudio claimed.
DeRudio did see 3 men atop hill 3411 at about 2:00 pm who his mistook for Custer, Cooke et al. At that distance, it would be impossible for most men with normal eyesight to make such an identification. DeRudio might well have been looking at the 3 Crow scouts or even some of the Rees who had surmounted the bluffs near that point after running off a number of Lakota horses. Of course, his story would be all the more dramatic if he could pursuade his listeners that it was General Custer atop the bluffs waving his hat. I suppose it would be fitting for DeRudio to claim that he was the last officer to see Custer alive.
At 2:00 pm, Custer was no where near the top of those bluffs, at least in my understanding of the events. At that time, his command would have been down in MTC approaching the vicinity of Ford B. I can not match the alleged DeRudio siting of Custer on the bluffs to Martini's descriptions of Custer on the bluffs. Martini is clearly talking about an early arrival on the bluffs before Reno actually engaged the hostiles, whereas DeRudio is describing a siting at a time when Reno is nearing the end of his valley fight.
What do you think?
"The more I see of movement here (Little Big Horn Battlefield), the more I have admiration for Custer, and I am satisfied his like will not be found very soon again.”
~ Gen. Nelson Miles, Commanding General of the Army ------
"With our cherished ones deliverance within our grasp we waited breathless for the order that never came."
I believe that it possible that De Rudio in his mind saw as he described without it being factual. Remember he also saw Tom Custer. We need to recognize that between a lie and the factual truth are lots of eyewitness accounts and testimonies. It is also important to understand that the witness believes it is what they saw including the details.
I suspect we have all done that at sometime. That is - thought we saw something that turns out not to be what we thought. I know I have done that. Without the confirmation that I was incorrect I would believe and relate the account as I thought I saw it.
Thanks for the model map on this Clair. Apparently the mileage by Custer and Reno were about the same or in parallel moving north and allowing for water stops. Also appears that the Cedar Coulee and South MTC routes were similar in mileage, give or take a little. I would suspect that Reno was moving faster down the valley that Custer was on the bluffs so Custer would be behind him a little.
It does suggest that Custer halted in MTC or somewhere prior to his attack when you consider Custer's gait and the time for the Reno battle to unfold.
Bill, I would suspect that after a month of following Custer and Cooke and probably at a distance a lot of the time, DeRudio could probably make who they were by the clothes and horses. Probably not an uncommon sight during the march.
I also put Custer apart from his command quite a bit. Now that I have an understanding of the mileage from Clair's latest model map, Custer could have been anywhere from 3411 to Wier Point and never been more than a mile or so from his command. Would also explain any halts. Guess I can't rule out that Custer watched the Reno fight for a while with his command moving on. Ride over to Weir pt. and go down Middle Coulee to meet the command at MTC. Just have to correlate to Martini accounts and then see if anything fits with the Thompson accounts and the NA accounts.
Post by benteeneast on Jan 4, 2010 21:14:32 GMT -5
In Thompson's account he was left alone and can't see anyone. That should include Custer I would think. Wherever they went down to -Cedar Coulee- Custer was there according to Martin. From that location he rode back up and then could see Reno.
So I can't see Custer remaining on top watching and Peter Thompson misses him. Especially if he gave Martin the message in Cedar Coulee.
The Thompson story is interesting to patch in, here. It is almost mandatory that when he is left behind, it is between SSR and Reno's defense area, and he is looking up at the saddle between SSR and Weir...his "horizon" that he can't see beyond. This is how Custer's column initially "disappears" from his view.
Now by the time he gets up to that saddle and can look down Cedar Coulee, everyone is out of sight. Custer is certainly no longer at 3411 or on Weir peak, and the column is either down at the bottom of Cedar Coulee where it can no longer be seen, or is on the east side of SSR which blocks Thompson's view of it. The column might also already be down in MTC, where Custer is dispatching Martin who gallops back up the trail, and also misses Thompson.
Now to miss Thompson, either Thompson had just gone down the bluff toward the river by this point, or Martin took a route farther back from the edge of the bluff Thompson was travelling on and missed him that way.
On one of Camp's maps, there is an X and notes that this is where Martin on his return with the message, sees Private Thompson. This is on the north and west side of the ridge of SSR. This location is were Martin is when he views Thompson, not where Thompson is.
"Now, Custer, don't be greedy, but wait for us." General Gibbon "No, I will not." Custer, noon, June 22, 1876 passing in review.