Strikes Two gives his account of the LBH battle found in the book Custer in 76, my interpretive comments in brackets:
After driving [the] captured [Sioux] ponies up to the bluffs [just north of el. 3411], during which time, some of Custer's troops fired on them by mistake, killing a pony. [From the bluffs, they rode down towards Ash/Reno Creek] and passed a trooper with stripes on his arm [likely Sgt. Kanipe]. They soon saw the [advance] pack train coming along [under Lt. Mathey] and saw 'Bull' and 'Share' each leading a pack mule. They distributed the captured ponies and resaddled and followed the pack train to the river. [Indicating here that Lt. Mathey's advance pack mules went nearly to the river by Ford A before turning up to the bluffs, probably following the trail made by Custer and/or Benteen's battalion.] They then saw Sioux chasing [Reno's] soldiers up the bluffs. They rode up the bluffs and charged the Sioux. The [advance] pack train then arrived on the bluffs where they were standing. Six of them then left the bluff and went over to where they could see the timber [along the Little Big Horn river just north of Reno's retreat crossing] and saw other Indian scouts coming out of the timber in the valley. From the same point [very likely el. 3411 or the point on the bluffs just south of it], they could see Custer was being defeated [likely a reference here to seeing one or more of Custer's squadrons moving up to Luce or East Ridge at this time and, like Trumpeter Martin, mistakenly interpreted as Custer retreating back from the Ford B area.] They then returned to where the [advance] pack train was [on Reno Hill] and then went off to water their horses [down at the Little Big Horn river by Reno's retreat crossing]. Billy Cross was with them. [He] says they did not arrive at [the] Rosebud [river] till daylight [the] next morning, but a different group [of Rees] with the captured ponies started ahead of them [and arrived at the Rosebud river at darkness on June 25th].
I have never thought of this before but your mentioning of the advance pack train arrival made me realize (for the first time) that there were, at least, an arrival of another pack train later. The first pack train must have been the ammunition packs that Reno sent someone to hurry it up.
I think there is no doubt that the advance pack mules were carrying the ammunition packs. I believe it was Pvt. Kennedy of I Co. who told Camp that the ammunition mules were separated from the main pack train and sent on ahead while the command was still up on the divide.
The second arrival must have been the arrival of the remainder of the pack train. Right?
The advance packs arrived on Reno Hill between 3:05 and 3:15 p.m. The main pack train arrived on Reno Hill between 4:00 and 4:20 p.m. according to the participants who were there.
If the ammunition arrived first, why didn't the men pass it out to those who needed it and rush to Custer's aid.
Some of it was passed out, but apparently not that much, which brings to the fore the question of just how much ammunition was really used in the Reno valley fight. Its still a subject of some controversy. They did not rush to Custer's aid or support because Reno ordered them to stand down and wait for the arrival of the main pack train.
Why wait for the second part of the pack train?
Come on, Reddirt. That's an easy one. Its where Reno's gallon keg of whisky was located, and Reno's own flask was empty. <g>
Again, thank you for your enlightening posts! They sure help me out in understanding some of the confusing parts of the battle.
You're welcome Reddirt. I am glad to be of some service here in my own small way.
Strikes Two and Young Hawk interview on the Little Big Horn Battle with Walter Camp at Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, August 7, 1910, (1 MSS, field notes, unclassified envelope 77, IU Library,) with my annotations in brackets:
[Question:] Was Billy Cross with the party who captured [the Sioux] ponies or [was he] in Reno’s retreat [from the valley]?
[Answer:] [He was] In Reno’s retreat.
[Question:] Did they see anything of White Swan’s fight [during Reno's retreat from the valley]?
[Answer:] Yes, it was during the retreat of the Rees [from the valley].
[Question:] Was Young Hawk left in the timber mounted or dismounted and how did he get out?
[Answer: [ I was] Mounted. Did those [Rees] who captured [the Sioux] ponies see anything of Custer and his five companies when they ascended the bluffs or before?
[Answer:] Yes, [they] passed near him [as his command was descending towards Medicine Tail Coulee] and [the Rees] were shot at by a few [of Custer's] soldiers [at the rear].
[Camp comment:] They [ie. The Ree scouts driving the stolen Sioux ponies] must therefore have come up [to the bluffs north of Reno Hill] just after [Sgt.] Knipe left [Custer's command].
[Question:] How long before [the] battle began did [the] Rees capture [the] Sioux horses?
[Answer:] Quite a while.
[Question:] How far was it from the place [where they] ran them [ie. the stolen Sioux ponies] up the bluffs to the Reno corral [on Reno Hill]?
[Answer:] [It was] Just about where Reno retreated up [the bluffs], says Strikes Two.
[Question:] Who was the brother of Boy Chief?
[Answer:] Good Elk.
[Camp comment:] It is an error to say that the Rees, who passed the pack train, had then started for [the] Powder River [supply depot]. The Rees who captured the [Sioux] ponies ran them up the valley a few miles to get them out of sight and left them with [Ree horse] holders. Both Young Hawk and Strikes Two said there were two Jacksons [ie. Billy and Bob Jackson] and two white scouts. Neither of them seemed to remember that there were three half-breeds. Young Hawk said the two white men were called Ieska and Choka Wo. Ieska was thought by Young Hawk to be Billy Cross and Choka Wo to be [William] Baker [ed. both half breed scouts]. [Young Hawk] Said Choka Wo’s horse was killed [in the Reno Valley Fight] and that Choka Wo was left [behind] in the timber and he [then] got a Sioux horse [to make his escape]. This may have been [Billy] Cross. Strikes Two was more definite and said that one of the two white men was killed (Charley Reynolds) and the other (Choka Wo) [ie. William Baker] went [back] to [the] Powder River [supply depot] with the [other] Rees. Choka Wo must therefore have been Cross. Neither of them appears to remember Baker. [Note: It is likely that Camp's surmise here is wrong. It would appear that William Baker (Choka Wo) was the scout left behind in the timber who made his escape on a Sioux pony. Billy Cross was likely up on the bluffs east of the river during Reno's retreat from the valley.] Strikes Two says Choka Wo is the one who came down the hill with the Rees to water the horses and got cut off from Reno by the Sioux. [Note: Billy Cross accompanied this group as well, mentioning it occurred about 4 p.m.]
Strikes Two's account of the Little Big Horn Battle as published in the Arikara Narrative, with my annotations in brackets:
... Custer’s plan was for them [ie. his Ree scouts] to seize the Dakota horses.... They [Strikes Two, Red Star and Boy Chief] crossed the [Little Big Horn] river at a point where there was no regular ford and rode after the [Sioux] horses.... There was very little fighting on the line at this time and the village was just stirring. [Note: Strikes Two tells us here that the Ree scouts entered the LBH valley to capture Sioux ponies well before Reno's valley fight had started in earnest -- while "the village was just stirring" -- another indication that the Indian village was taken by surprise by Reno's advance into the valley.] As they headed the [captured Sioux] horses into a group, One Feather and Pta-a-te [other name unknown] had a bunch [of Sioux horses] nearer the ford [ie. Ford A] and these horses were retaken by the Dakotas [ie. the Sioux] who had crossed the river lower down, below the timber where Young Hawk and his party were to hide [ie. just below or downstream from Reno's retreat crossing]. They crossed the ridge [with the captured Sioux ponies] just ahead of the Dakotas [Sioux] and got away with the [captured] horses. Little Sioux and Bull-in-the-Water helped to get the [captured] horses over the ridge [ed. likely Sharpshooter Ridge].
Here [on the bluffs] were all the remaining [Indian] scouts who did not cross the river [with Reno's advance]. The [captured Sioux] horses were headed into a ravine east of the ridge [ed. likely Sharpshooter Ridge] and the scouts [stopped and] changed horses [there]. There were twenty-eight of these Dakota [Sioux] horses here. As the [Ree] scouts turned back to fight and rode up on the [Sharpshooter?] ridge , they saw that the [skirmish] line [in the valley] was broken and that the [Reno] soldiers were coming up the hill. The Dakotas [ie. Sioux] were across the river already and coming right after the soldiers. Down the river [just below Reno's retreat crossing] they could see the smoke of much firing around the grove [of timber] where Young Hawk and his party were hiding. At the Dakota [ie. Sioux] camp they noticed that the riders [ie. mounted Sioux warriors] were headed downstream [towards Custer's wing]....
When Custer stood at the [bluffs overlooking the] bank where Hodgson’s stone stands [on the bluffs just north of Reno Hill], Curley and Black Fox (Arikara) were there with him (Goes Ahead confirms this). Pretty Face [ed. traveling with the pack train] reported that after he had joined the Arikara scouts [on Reno Hill] he saw an Arikara with a white cloth about his head. Black Fox was the only Arikara with this on. [Note: In other words, Black Fox was on Reno Hill when the pack train arrived there -- likely the advance packs under Lt. Mathey.] When Black Fox reached the mouth of the Rosebud he met the older scouts already there; they came out to meet him, [and] he came on slowly. In answer to their queries he said [that] he and Curley got together near Reno ford [ie. Ford A]. Curley told Black Fox he would take him back [east of the divide] to show him where the soldiers left some hard tack. So Curley took Black Fox to the flat below the hills overlooking the present town of Busby [on the] north side. Curley told Black Fox that for his part he was going home....
An undated interview with Strikes Two given to Walter Camp at Fort Berthold Indian Reservation (1 MSS, field notes, unclassified envelope 77, IU Library, IN), with my annotations in brackets:
He [Strikes Two] was 29 years old at time of battle. At [the] Crow’s Nest early [in the morning] on June 25 [were]: Charlie Reynolds, Mitch Bouyer, five [of the six] Crows, and five Rees: White Calf (Red Star), Bull, and Forked Horn. [ I] Don’t remember the other two; I was left [that morning back] at [the] pack train. Bobtail Bull and Bloody Knife [were] not at [the] Crow’s Nest. [He] Says White Calf [aka. Red Star] enlisted [at the] same time as myself.
Red Star, Boy Chief and [myself,] Strikes Two, captured 27 [Sioux] horses and 2 mules [prior to Reno's advance into the valley on June 25, 1876]. We had made a break for a drove of horses on our way down [the valley] from Ford A, but the Sioux were too quick and got them away, but the above 29 [Sioux horses and mules] appeared to break away from the herd and we three got them in the timber before [the Reno] soldiers got to [the] timber, and we ran the ponies up the bluffs [ed. likely just north of Reno Hill] and there we passed Custer going north along the bluffs, and a few of Custer’s soldiers, taking us for Sioux, fired at us and hit Boy Chief’s horse in the jaw. We kept waving our hats to let them know we were Rees. Custer kept going right on and soon got out of our sight. We were joined by others soon and there were eight of us with the captured Sioux horses: Little Sioux, One Feather, Bull in Water, one of the Sioux [Army scouts], Red Star, Soldier (Kannoch), Boy Chief, and [myself,] Strikes Two. We took the horses back [to Ash/Reno Creek] until we met the pack train coming, and then left them there with [the horse-]holders.
In the morning of June 25, after we knew that [the] Sioux were in [the Little Big Horn] valley, Mitch Bouyer told us that he said to Custer: "Why not wait a day until Gibbon cooperates as there are too many Sioux." Custer said: ["There] are no more than I handled in another battle." Custer called the officers together [at Halt #2 on the divide] and had a council and after this told us he was going to charge the [Indian] camp [reported in the Little Big Horn valley], and he wanted us scouts, at the proper time, to go ahead and get the Sioux horses and run them up back of the pack train and stay there, because if we were in front of the soldiers they would take us for Sioux and fire on us. (["The] soldiers", said Custer, ["will] not be able to tell the difference between a Sioux and a Ree.") He said we could have all the horses we would capture. When we got down near the [Little Big Horn] river [ed. likely at the lone tepee] Custer said: "Why don’t you go ahead? What are you waiting for?"
Then Strikes Two, Forked Horn, Bobtail Bull, Little Brave, Foolish Red Bear, Watokchu and another Sioux [Army scout] crossed the river and made a rush for the [Sioux] horses, but the Sioux got them away. Later we got some of the [Sioux] horses as stated above. Watokchu was in [the] fight in [the] bottom [ie. the valley]. Good Elk [was] in [the] fight in [the] bottom. Foolish Red Bear and Goose [were] also in fight in [the fight in the] bottom. [We] Left [the captured Sioux] horses with [horse-]holders [at the pack train] and [then we] came back to [the] bluffs [by Reno Hill], and [Billy] Cross said we ought to get [the captured Sioux] horses farther away so as to make a sure thing of [keeping] them. Bush, One Feather, Good Face, Red Star, and Little Crow [then] started back toward [the] Powder [River supply depot] with these horses. [The] Rest of us stopped with Reno. Nine of us returned from [the Sioux] horses [ left at the pack train] and stayed with Reno [on the bluffs]. We then counted ourselves and concluded that eight of us had been killed, including Young Hawk, Goose, Foolish Red Bear, and Forked Horn whom we at that time did not know were with the soldiers.
We were joined [on the bluffs] by Billy Cross and [then we] went to river to water the horses [note: The participant timeline places this event between 4 and 4:30 pm], and while there [watering our horses at the river] Reno was surrounded by the Sioux. We [then] ascended the bluffs [ed. likely south of Reno Hill] and waited, and seeing Reno besieged and it getting dark ([we] could see the flash of [the] guns [firing]), Stab said: "We cannot go to the soldiers. Let us go [back] to [the] Powder River [supply depot"]. We camped [that night] halfway [back to the supply depot]. ([Camp note: Strikes Two] Did not appear to know [the half-breed scout William] Baker at all.) The Rees with the [captured Sioux] horses were way up ahead and we did not overtake them that night. [But] the Sioux had chased them and had retaken the [captured] horses. The reason the few Rees started out early with the horses was that we thought that to make a sure thing of [keeping] them, we had better get them to [the] Powder River [supply depot]. Custer had told us to get the [Sioux pony] herd and get it in [the] rear of the pack train, and we could have all the horses we could capture, which was to us a great incentive to capture all [that] we could.
Strikes Two gives his account of the Little Big Horn Battle to Walter Camp in an interview given on July 23, 1912, published in Gordon Harper's The Fights on the Little Horn Companion: Full Appendices and Bibliography. Kindle Edition. with my annotations in brackets: PART I
...we found [the main Indian] trail and on [the] morning of June 25 got word that [the] Sioux camp had been located [in the Little Big Horn valley]. At [the] divide on June 25 Custer said, “There are other soldiers [coming] to attack the village, and I want to be there first so that we will get the honor of fighting the Sioux. I want you [Ree scouts] to charge the camp first and capture all the [Sioux] horses [that] you can.” At [the] lone tepee Custer became impatient [with the Ree scouts] and said that we were [too] slow and if he had to urge us again to go forward he would take our guns and horses and put us afoot.
We now started out fast and forded Little Bighorn [ed. well ahead of Reno's battalion] and soon overtook a bunch of horses herded by two Sioux. We followed [after these] horses and soon saw the village, and [the] Sioux came out of [the] village to help the two [Sioux horse-]herders. The village was not stirred up [yet] and Forked Horn, Red Foolish Bear, Little Brave, Watoksha, Caroo, Machpiya Sha, Bobtail Bull and [myself,] Strikes Two ... had a little skirmish, and Bobtail Bull said, “Look for a means of escape if the soldiers were to retreat, as there are more people here than we thought....” All this was while the soldiers were deploying [ed. likely a reference to when Reno deployed his battalion from column to line formation about 1/3 mile west of the river] and before their fight began. [Note: Strikes Two tells us that their skirmish while capturing Sioux ponies in the valley occurred before the start of Reno's valley fight. It is also interesting to note Bobtail Bull's perceptive comment regarding the possibility that the soldiers would retreat due to the unexpectedly large number of Sioux encountered in the valley.]
In this skirmish I killed one Sioux and saw a little bunch of Sioux horses come out [of the] brush just ahead of [Reno's] soldiers, and Bloody Knife said, “Take these horses and drive them to the rear." We all had infantry rifles [ie. Springfield 'long Toms'] with two bands ... except Stabbed who had his own gun - a repeater. While I stood on the edge of [the] bank clearing my gun, the soldiers began firing. I looked behind and saw three Rees coming: Boy Chief [aka. Black Calf], Red Star [aka. White Calf or Strike Bear], and Bull in Water. Some one turned and saw three more [Rees] coming - Little Sioux, One Feather, and The Whole Buffalo [aka. Buffalo Ancestor or Bear Come Out].... The Sioux horses captured by Bloody Knife now stampeded and crossed the river, and we, I and [the] above[-named] six, put in after them....
some of them ran back toward Sioux village, but we turned them and got the whole bunch together. I was driving twenty head and one suckling colt. Red Star had three, and Boy Chief had five. Red Star was named White Calf [back] then.... Of our party of seven, four were holding horses. While we were driving [the captured Sioux] horses up [the] hill from [the] river, some soldiers [ed. riding at the end of Custer's wing] passed by and fired on us by mistake, and one of the captured horses was killed. We drove the horses up [the] high bank on east side [of the river -- ed. likely a short distance north of Reno Hill] and Stabbed now joined us, making eight in the party, and soon Strike the Lodge and Assiniboine ([Camp note:] Assiniboine was a nickname for one of the scouts; he did not explain which one) came up, making ten, and we drove [the Sioux] horses [off the bluffs] and got them in a good position.
Here a soldier with stripes on his arm came along ([Camp note:] probably [Sgt.] Knipe) and asked, “How goes it?” While we were going back we saw the pack train come along [Note: This is likely the advance packs traveling with Lt. Mathey]. Bull [aka. Bellow] and Share [aka. Pretty Face or Good Face] were each leading a pack mule ([Camp note:] They were not in the fight in the bottom).... we distributed the horses [among our number]... each [of us] now saddled up a fresh horse, and we followed the pack train to [the] river, and [at this time the Reno] soldiers were retreating out of [the] bottom and [the] soldiers [were] all in confusion. [note: another indication that this was the advance pack mules with Lt. Mathey -- the main pack train turned up the bluffs at least a mile and a half or more before reaching the river -- only Mathey's advance pack mules would reach the vicinity of the river not far behind Benteen's battalion at the time Reno's command were retreating from the valley]
Strikes Two gives his account of the Little Big Horn Battle to Walter Camp in an interview given on July 23, 1912, published in Gordon Harper's The Fights on the Little Horn Companion: Full Appendices and Bibliography. Kindle Edition. with my annotations in brackets: PART II
The Sioux were pursuing [Reno's] soldiers up [the] hill, and we charged [some of] them and drove them back to [the] west side of [the] river where [the] soldiers had been killed [during Reno's retreat from the valley]. We could see bunches of Sioux all over the valley. While we were watching here [on the bluffs], some [of Reno's] soldiers came out of [the] timber, having been left there when Reno retreated. Watoksha and Good Elk [aka. Red Bear] also escaped from the timber at this time.
The pack train had now arrived on the bluff where we were standing and looking into the valley. A white soldier was on Bobtail Bull’s horse [on Reno Hill], Bobtail Bull having been killed, and we took his horse [back] and put him among the pack mules. We also found Little Brave’s horse and tied him among the pack mules. Bobtail’s horse had blood marks down his legs and on [his] hoofs and saddle, so we concluded he was wounded and [then] killed after fording the river - that is, on [the] east side [of the river]. Six of us left the bluff [by Reno Hill] and went to where we could see [down into] the timber [along the river downstream of Reno's retreat crossing], and Young Hawk, Forked Horn, Foolish Red Bear, Goose, White Swan, and Half Yellow Face came out of the timber in the valley.
From [the] same point [north of Reno Hill] we could see that Custer was being defeated. [Note: According to participants, Custer's fight would have just started about this time. As the fight would lead to Custer's defeat, Strikes Two concludes that he "was being defeated" despite the fact that his fight was only in its initial stages.] We six [then] went to where [the] pack train was [on Reno Hill], and Stab and Soldier proposed that we water our horses, and the three Sioux scouts: Watokshu, White Cloud, and Karu [aka. Caroo or Bear Running in the Timber] joined us, making nine ([Camp note:] He must have Karu confused with one of the other Sioux scouts) [Note: Walter Camp is mistaken. Strikes Two is correct], and we went [down to the river] to water [the] horses. A Sioux interpreter ([Camp note:] Billy Cross) went with us, making ten in all. [Note: Billy Cross estimated the time this occurred at about 4 p.m. The Participant Timeline puts it closer to 4:30 p.m.]
We [then] watered [the horses], and on [the] way back stopped to smoke. I took a walk and saw seven men whom I supposed to be our scouts but found out they were Sioux who had surrounded our soldiers. Stab proposed that we hit [sic. head] for some timber and we did so, but found [the] timber scattering and [so we] went on to a knoll and had a skirmish with [our] pursuers. The Sioux interpreter [ie. Billy Cross] went with us. [The] Soldiers on [the] bluff [were now] surrounded and fighting at [the] same time, and all of us fought until sundown. After dark we could see flashes of [the] guns [firing]. We [then] got on [our] horses and fired [our] guns and made [for] a bluff at a charge and then started [back] for [the] Rosebud [river].
[We] Arrived at [the] Rosebud [river] at daylight.... On [the] Rosebud we found some abandoned hardtack, some [of it] moldy. On [the] Rosebud [river] Black Fox came up from [the] front and joined us, having started back on [the] trail ahead of us. He had a mare and [ a] colt. I was thirty-two years old then. We camped on [the] Rosebud to rest, and two of my horses got away from me and went on ahead, and they were caught by Indian scouts coming toward us from [the] mouth of [the] Powder [River at the supply depot]. [The] Next morning some of us went out looking for these horses and [we] ran upon [the] track of a shod horse.... Stab had [an] extra horse and loaned it to me and we went on to [the] Tongue River. We camped there and then went on to [the] Powder River [supply depot]. The interpreter [ie. Billy Cross] was still with us all the way, and when we got to [the] Powder River [supply depot], all the soldiers crowded around him to hear what had happened. After we got there we saw the Rees who had captured [the] horses. They had ridden [the] captured Sioux horses and left their own horses that were played out. We came back on the same trail that we [had earlier] went up with Custer....